Archive for October, 2009

29
Oct
09

horses, photography, continued

PiaffeThe practice of expanding my awareness, as encouraged by my interaction with my horses, and developed as my friendship with Dominique strengthened, prepared me to see deeply when I began to photograph in a serious manner.  Had I not spent more than a decade engaged in thought, writing, discussion, and living in a manner that facilitated deeper expression, I believe that I could not have become the photographer I am today. Often people ask me what I photograph.  I don’t know how to answer that really, but have settled on this:  I am an opportunistic photographer.  That is, when I see something that has layers of meaning or that I respond to (emotionally, visually, or otherwise) I investigate it photographically.  Of course I enjoy putting myself in places that I love, marvelous locations like Italy or France, but also the Arboretum, my home town, Dominique and Debra’s barn.  In new or exotic locations my heart is open and I’m visually alive, charged to all that is happening.  In familiar locations I am more relaxed and the images have a way of rising up in a gentle manner.

I have lived with, loved, and cared for horses for a very long time.  The horse is a creature of Grace.  There is an old saying about horses and riders that is roughly “you always get the horse you need”.  Because I like to do things full blast, I have had two horses of distinct personalities.  My mare, Raschida, was my do-everything girl:  fox hunter, trail hack, dressage mount, and teacher for neighborhood children. She insisted that I do everything correctly.  If I did not, it was a battle, and one I would never win.  So she was a marvelous teacher in that way, though not the easiest mount.  She was a gorgeous mare who embodied the Look of Eagles.  My job was to take that power and channel it into relaxation and grounded energy. My stallion, Fol Amour, is a refined, elegant monk with the heart of a lion.  He waits patiently for me and when I arrive (metaphysically and emotionally) we create magic. If I’m not quite there we have a pleasant ride and he sort of just packs me around.  My job is to show up, fully, and allow the sparks to fly. Having the two opposite ends of the spectrum demanded that I put in the “time in the saddle”.  Even when I wasn’t riding, I was thinking of calm, centered, flowing strength. This discipline prepared me to develop my photographic ability while accepting the bumps and setbacks as opportunities to learn.  Today, when I am not photographing, I am thinking about photography.  This enables me to see more deeply and remain creatively inspired. 

In the next post I’m going to pull at the threads of Grace and creative inspiration.

28
Oct
09

Horses, photography

Ultraje

Top Iberian, a gorgeous magazine from Spain that chronicles the Lusitano and Andalusian horse, is publishing a feature story about me, including a number of the horse photos that I’ve taken in the last several years. The editor, Katharina Braren, asked me in the interview to describe my connection with horses, as a strong connection, in her words, is evident in the photographs.  This is a subject that is central to who I am as a photographer so I was happy to discuss it.  As a full answer will take more than two paragraphs I am going to post it over several days.

The quality, or act of being that is awareness is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.  I’ve written and thought about this for nearly two decades.  Curiosity at a young age is a good start, but true awareness begins with an examination of who we are.  For me, this time coincided with when I met Dominique Barbier almost 20 years ago.  Antoine de St. Exupery describes friendship in this way:  Friendship is born from an identity of spiritual goals ~ from common navigation toward a star. If that is so, Dominique and I have seen many galaxies together.  Our discussions about the horses and training quickly turned to developing awareness and knowing what energy we were bringing to the horse whenever we were in contact.  By beginning to peel away ego and expectation, I found a greater partnership and acceptance with my horses.  Please understand, this took some time and a great deal of effort.  Effort in the sense of bringing forth work from the heart…not just working AT something….it had the quality of working TO something and each step was a revelation.   This approach naturally spilled over into all the layers of a busy life (raising children, running a business) and while there were many setbacks, there were real moments, periods of peace and acceptance.   How does all this relate to photography?  That will be revealed in tomorrow’s post.

26
Oct
09

thinking of gifts today

Many early birthday wishes today (thank you!) have caused me to think about gifts.  This past summer, while enjoying a visit from my mother, we went to the Olympic coastline. I wanted to show my Mom the gorgeous reflections that wet sand can offer at sunset. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed a few stops along the way to photograph the lavender fields.  We had traveled 105 of the 109 miles to our destination when we rounded a corner, started down an incline, and ran SMACK into a fog bank. Not a wispy, oh it will blow over fog bank, an impenetrable wall of gray hanging mist.  The temperature dropped like a stone along with our hopes of photographing glorious pinks and magentas and oranges with deep blue sky and water.   We checked into our little ‘roughing-it’ cabin and decided to take a walk on the shore. 

The bracing sea air and the vibration of the surf on the shore worked on my mood and made me remember that there were photographs to be created.   I’ll let the photographic results speak to you as they will, but the most important thing I captured that night was a renewed commitment to remember a lesson I thought I knew:  a grateful heart accepts all as a gift.

24
Oct
09

continuing the conversation

My buddy Rick Holt just called from PhotoExpo in NYC and told me to watch this video.  I did.  Now you should.

from Scott Kelby’s blog:

It’s “Guest Blog Wednesday” featuring Zack Arias!

Posted using ShareThis

24
Oct
09

Photographs in our lives

Two photos today:  the first is a much loved picture in our family album and the second is my favorite photo of all time.  I suppose it will always be.

We all keep our family photographs for the obvious reasons of nostalgia, family bonds, humor, longing, history, love.  But I think that Photographers (meaning working pros and perhaps serious amateurs) fail to recognize the importance of continuing to make these images.  I’ve been thinking of this as I have been working on a project of gathering images from family members and combining them with anecdotes into a volume that will be printed.   What has struck me so profoundly is that I can’t remember a single thing about the ACT of making the photographs that I’ve contributed.  I can’t remember the camera I used….how/when they were developed….it’s as if I was totally absent in the mechanical process.  Oddly, I can tell you everything about every image made since 2005 (when I became a ‘serious’ photographer).  Do we feel the weight of needing to make a photograph rather than just recording a moment? Are we then separated from the experience and does that separation reveal itself in our work?   Are we more or less present when recording moments in our own lives?  How do we eliminate the distinction, or should we?

A far better writer and photographer than me has lived this theme.  Sam Abell often lectures on The Photographic Life.  If the opportunity arises for  you to hear a lecture, take a class, or pick up one of his books, don’t miss it.   As that Great American, Arthur Meyerson once introduced Sam……I give you the Dalai Lama of photography:         www.samabell-thephotographiclife.com

My last point:  when I asked my now 25 year old son what he would like for his birthday, he said “a copy of that photograph of Jess, Will, and me, in Florida at Uncle Charlie’s…you know the one….it’s my favorite photograph of all time”.

22
Oct
09

Early lesson

Alain Briot, noted Southwest photographer and founder of www.beautiful-landscape.com said to me “sometimes you can make a beautiful image in this bright sunlight”.  We had been walking all over Chaco Culture National Park, in JULY, and we stopped by this doorway.  It’s not in one of the big ruins (Casa Rinconada or Pueblo Bonita) it’s an outlier, perhaps Wijiji.  The point is this:  drop your preconceptions.  Learn to see like your camera sees….and experiment.  Magic happens.

Native American culture has played a large part in my fantasy life since I was a young child.  Wearing moccasins to school in West Virginia was a little odd, but I just wanted to BE what I thought an Indian was.  For a long while my exploration was limited to reading and combing through photography books (Edward Curtis for Native Americans).  Beginning in 2004, coinciding with the first serious pursuit of photography, I went to explore the Southwest.  It turned out to be a marvelous affirmation of following your heart.  Combine bad timing (leaving a landscape business in high season), really hot weather (105 degrees in the shade), and throw in a total leap of faith to contact Alain about private study, and BINGO:  New Life Path.Portal

22
Oct
09

Why the blog when so many are available?

We photograph as we are.  If that statement is true, then I am determined to grow as a person/a soul/an individual in order to become a more engaging photographer.

I’ll post images, invite comment, and solicit your thoughts about how you are growing as a photographer and from time to time I’ll comment on all the things that help me to grow:  books, movies, music, experience, life.




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