Posts Tagged ‘inspiration

27
Aug
11

A few more thoughts about Sam Abell’s workshop

If we are lucky, we get to experience an event that stays with us and molds us for the rest of our lives. I have had many blessings of this nature, but this last week reminded me of the importance of that initial experience.

In the late fall of 2005, I had the good fortune to take a workshop with Sam Abell on the mid-coast of Maine. The first night of the class offered us the opportunity to hear a lecture by Sam titled “The Photographic Life”. Sam’s sonorous story-telling style had the audience rapt, but I was struck by the deep humanity in the images as well as the personal stories of a life well-lived. Since that week I have worked hard to embody Sam’s advice of making the best picture in any situation and I have been helped by the voice that I hear while composing. It comes in from over my right shoulder and says things like this: check your edges; are the elements separated?; do they exist in their own world?; is it involving?; are there layers in the image?; setting, expression, gesture.

I’ve been assisting Sam in classes and with lectures for more than five years now. This past week I encouraged a number of good friends from all over the country to come to Whidbey Island for at least the lecture, if not the entire class. A number of (very intelligent) people took me up on the invitation. I heard from them the exact remarks that I made six years ago: It was wonderful; The sensitivity and depth of emotion in the images and the stories is deeply moving; it gives us a totally new way to see images and to think about our own photography.

Thankfully there are many wonderful teachers and mentors in the world. I’ve had several in different areas of my life. I suppose what I want to say with this blog post is this: Find a mentor or teacher whose vision and life you respect and emulate them. Make your own path, but hold on to the tenets they have lived by and see where it will lead you. The photographic life is just one life among millions of choices, but as Sam said, “it is the right life for me”. Building layers of depth and breadth in my life as well as my photographs has brought me to a place of deep appreciation and offered many moments of joy.

This state of being is open to us all but if you want to ignite a fire, take a Sam Abell course or at least experience a lecture he’s offering. Next up: Sam will be appearing at the INVision Photo Festival in Bethlehem, PA ( http://www.artsquest.org/invision/ ) Prior to that he is teaching at the Santa Fe Workshops in early October. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Here’s a gallery of images I’ve made over the years on Whidbey Island and around Seattle. I vow each year during the class to spend more time photographing…this time I made it happen.  You can too.

25
Jun
11

Abundance

The trip to Portugal and Spain was one of abundance. Everywhere I turned was a feast for all the senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Although I no longer like this word, it was dizzying.

But the strongest feeling I got was one of connection. Of course I am at home with the horses no matter on which continent I find them, but watching a bullfight?? or visiting the village of Goléga, and Mestre Nuno Oliveira’s old manege, a Flamenco performance in the Gitane area of Jerez, the famous Bodegas of Terry and Domecq, and then the Convento dos Capuchos?  Each location was filled with a familiarity or sense memory for me that was suprisingly strong and completely unexpected. My challenge during this trip was to make meaningful images AND hold as much of the experience in my heart as possible. This can be very difficult when so much is packed into such a short time. In one day we saw a performance at the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, had lunch on one of the most beautiful windswept beaches I’ve ever seen, visited a monastery built into the rocks at the top of a mountain, traveled back in time to visit the Manege of Mestre Nuno Oliveira, and finish the night (very very late) at a Fado restaurant in the Alfama district….smack in the middle of the celebration for the Feast of St. Anthony.  And on top of that, I needed to make meaningful photographs of all the participants enjoying their trip.

I always remind myself that when I am working, I am happy to get ONE picture a day that reflects what I have seen and felt. It is hard to put into words the satisfaction I feel having created an image that speaks to me.  If I had to use one word I would choose affirming. A successful photograph affirms my connection with the subject and in a very real way, my connection to life. This experience of being in the flow of BE-ING is one of the most rewarding parts of photography. As my friend and mentor says so often, “photography is a great way to BE in life”. He’s right.

It’s often demanding and tiring, especially during a trip like this. Folks are snug in their beds by 2 am and I’m up downloading images and cleaning cards and gear, preparing to be ready to go again at 8 am. Looking, with intent and a desire to see deeper is tiring as well, but often rewarding.

I’m at home now, working through a mountain of files, and video too, and trying not to think (yet) about the next trip.  As always, thanks very very much for checking the blog. Please do tell a friend or two about it. Wishing you an abundant feast for all your senses. ~ Keron

 

16
Nov
10

storing memory

I am writing from California while looking at the late afternoon sun falling over the vineyards.  It is warm and golden with the sweet sounds of birds in the olive trees. After a long summer the grass has turned green again following late October rains.  It is a peaceful place for a pause before I begin the rest of my journey to the East. It reminds me of my favorite story, Frederick The Mouse. I’m storing the memory of the warmth and light and scent. This way I can use it to sustain me over the winter and as a guidepost for my return.

After four years I have left Seattle. Work and family cares are calling me to the East Coast for a time so I am driving across the country. I’ll be taking a southerly route and making notes of all the places that I’ll want to visit and photograph on a return trip. Driving south from the Oregon/California border was torturous at times because I could not stop. The light in the olive groves on the fresh green grass was arresting.  The patterning, the color, the softness in the atmosphere….thinking of it all now brings the pain back of not being able to photograph it.  I think I will have many bittersweet moments like that on this trip. As a photographer I know well the law that demands we “photograph it now”. We can never duplicate the light we see or the emotion generated by a scene when we first discover it. It’s a life lesson isn’t it:  Carpe Diem….do not procrastinate…etc. But as it can not be helped, I will make the notes and plan to return.

Here are a few images from my trip to Florida last week. Photographing for Cindy, Simone, and Rosemary was a joy and one that I actually KNOW can be repeated. I’m looking forward to being in Florida again in February. I’ll harvest again the scent of the ocean, the call of the gulls and the chirps of the pipers while the atmosphere displays the orange, pink, purple and blue hues that announce the arrival and departure of the sun.

27
Oct
10

Thoughts on a birthday…finding direction

I’m spending a lot of time on planes now.  For the most part I don’t mind it, and sometimes I rather enjoy it. Last night I flew from the East Coast to Seattle. Six hours of time without a (good) book to read allowed me to write in my journal.  I’ve just completed a journey through parts of Holland, Germany and the Czech Republic. My mind has been occupied with sorting all the experiences I had…trying to create some cohesion in the face of such wide disparity.  No success so far.

I thumbed through the older pages in my journal to see if there was a clue about my journey hidden away and I came across something I had written several months ago:  “We walk in the light cast by our searching soul.”

This is a time of change for me (time zones, homes, artistic direction). Birthdays are good markers for reflecting on what has come before…and to clarify our goals and desires for the coming year.  My trip to Europe amplified so many questions for me. What direction will I take? Will I find answers to questions that have haunted me for years…questions of the nature of humanity and our propensity for destruction that exists as the twin to our capacity for love? Can I create even more solitude in my life and how do I balance that with working to create a more public face for my photography?

Though I have learned that change is the best way to move forward it can still be difficult. Often we can find direction in observing where we’ve been and how it’s led us to where we are. The path might surprise you. The unexpected turn can seem perfectly aligned when viewed from a distance. Embrace change, it’s our only constant.

Re-reading that one sentence gave me hope and a bit of added strength.  When darkness envelops, even the tiniest spark of light offers warm, courage, and a direction, even if for only a few steps.  We all have that spark within.  So my birthday wish is that we all nurture our sparks so that they become flames and the flames create beacons.  Those beacons will light our way and could ease the path for many others.

Shine your light.

And perhaps more eloquently:
“Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”  ~ Golda Meir

Light streaming through the windows of St. Vitus' Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic

 

25
Sep
10

Photographers and philosophers…follow this link

http://powelltribune.com/index.php/content/view/3700/58/

Clicking on the link above will take you to an article written about Sam Abell in the Powell Tribune.  It’s worth the time to read the entire article.  I promise.

18
Sep
10

Way out West, fraternity and collaboration

“The greatness of a craft consists firstly in how it brings comradeship to men.” ~Antoine de St. Exupery

The last 30 days have been a whirlwind of teaching, travel, and photography.  It was my great pleasure (as it is each year) to assist Sam Abell on Whidbey Island at the Pacific Northwest Art School in Coupeville.  The class this year was built around creating a book of Whidbey Island.  Books are dear to Sam and dear to me. For this reason we were excited to offer the class the opportunity to develop an essay on a topic of their choosing about Whidbey Island. The assembly of these essays created our book.  It will soon be available on Blurb for all the students. By all reports, the workshop was a great success and we will be doing the same thing again next year with a few minor adjustments.

Following the workshop I flew immediately to California to photograph participants in a clinic at Debra and Dominique Barbier’s farm in Healdsburg.  Thirty or more people enjoyed participating in the first ever formal clinic at Batbier Farm…..riding their horses, learning from both Dominique and Debra, hearing Dominique’s Meditation for Two lecture, and enjoying great food, conversation, and wine.  The group, though diverse, came together easily because of the common love of the horse and their dedication to classical teaching and the compassionate training of the horse.

After a few days back in Seattle I was off to the East Coast to visit family and collaborate with Linda Bertschinger of Classicus Farm on her new book: Alchemy, Transforming Your Horse in Lightness.   After 30 hours non-stop work, we declared the book designed and well on its way to completion.  It was a pleasure to put in this time as the book is a gentle recitation of Linda’s experiences with different horses, each illustrating a pillar of classical training.  I will have an announcement on this blog when it is available.  (Soon!)

And then I was off to Wyoming.  I was a sheer delight to accompany Sam Abell and make a pilgrimage of sorts to a little town in Wyoming, prior to giving a lecture at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming.  Our good friend, Anthony Polvere, had arranged for the talk after we all met the previous year at the workshop on Whidbey Island.  The talk was the finest I’ve heard Sam give in the last five years.  The students of Northwest College and the citizens of Powell, Cody, Billings, and points in between, were given a talk that illustrated Sam’s practice and philosophy of photography.  Even more importantly, they walked away having witnessed a man that has examined life, a life in photography and from photography, a life writ large but lived humbly.  It’s a stunning combination: inspiring, uplifting, whole.   And then….off we went to Yellowstone National Park with the photography faculty from Northwest College!  There was such great fun, laughter, joy, remarkable story-telling, in short, camaraderie.  With the majesty of Yellowstone as our backdrop and great cowboy songs for our soundtrack, we toured, photographed, and enjoyed much of the Park.

And now I am just back from Santa Fe, having photographed participants there in a clinic with Dominique.  The very talented Lynn Clifford was the organizer of the clinic and our gracious hostess.  Again, a diverse group met for three days, enjoyed each other’s company, and shared their lives and experience with one another….all from their love of the horse.

In thinking about this whirlwind 30 days, the experience of fraternity and the spirit of collaboration are the thoughts that keep rising up. Friendship built on common interest, but friendship that respects each other’s vision and tradition creates an easy but deep and lasting bond.  The experience of collaboration, whether creating a book, editing a slideshow, shooting a video, or just exploring somewhere new, provides a foundation for each person to offer their insight and their strengths to the completion of a project.  With this collaboration, the project has a greater chance of having more depth and lasting meaning.

I have seen this with other book projects, I have experienced it with my own, and I have been honored to collaborate with and assist Sam and other teachers and photographers in many different ways.  So for photographers, horsemen and horsewomen, and all the readers of my blog, I say this: find a collaborator or teacher, join a group of friends and make new ones, and navigate to a place of joy and meaning.

“Friendship is borne from an identity of spiritual goals ~ From common navigation toward a star.”  A. de S. E.

Here’s a gallery, including friends and collaborators, from recent travels.

 

03
Aug
10

Favorite horse photos, recent shoots

I’ve posted this gallery to show some of my favorite images from past commissions and assignments.  Some of them have been chosen, some not, but they all appeal to me for one reason: I believe they reveal the essence of the horse I am photographing.  There are a few selections from the farms I’ve visited, as the energy and creation of the farm is an integral part of the experience you share with your horse.  Photographing the surroundings allows me to depict a more nuanced view of your daily routine.

I hope you enjoy the gallery.  If you are interested in having images created I will be in Santa Fe, (New Mexico), Flemington, (New Jersey), Kiel, (Germany), Devon, (England), Florence, (Italy), Sao Paolo, (Brazil), and points in between in the coming months.  I’d love to hear from you.

01
Aug
10

Gallery of images from recent travel

This is a gallery of images from my trip to Germany, England, and Holland.  It’s random, but the intent is always the same: to create an image that engages.  I had the great pleasure to travel with my Mother for part of the trip (in England). Mom introduced me to European travel many years ago and we enjoy many of the same things (in England a good cream scone with jam and Devonshire cream)….and lately she has taken up photography, so now we share that.  Pictures of swans are ubiquitous, I know, but the light and color called…..and I shot.  This gallery is more personal remembrance than capital P-photography, but we forget to make those shots sometimes.  Try not to.

29
Jul
10

Please remove your shoes (I’m not talking about airline travel)

“Earth is crammed with heaven, Every common bush afire with God:

But only he who sees takes off his shoes.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

After three months of near constant travel and work I am back in Seattle for a week to catch my breath. I have a lot of work to complete and great events on the horizon, but I am going to stop for a bit and reflect on the heaven and bushes afire that I have seen during my latest travels.

The heaven brought forth was the meeting of dear friends in several spots in Europe.  I am so fortunate to have met and come to care deeply for people in many different places. Traveling to see them along familiar rail lines or unfamiliar highways through ripening summer fields was a source of great joy to me. Creating new memories while laughing, dining, or walking together will keep  us in an embrace until our next meeting or even if we are never to meet again. This, along with a few photographs, is my sustenance. The heart holds joy and after a while, will release suffering.

I often visit museums to see the same paintings time and time again. Viewing The Sower and the Place du Forum and one of Vincent’s self portraits with those piercing blue eyes felt just like greeting old friends, or perhaps the echo of those meetings…with a touch of wistfulness and the longing to talk again.

Van Gogh's self portrait from 1887

I had the great pleasure to see several really fine exhibits and one new (to me) museum.  In London I went to the brand new show at the Royal Academy titled Sargent and the Sea, and saw the Renaissance Drawings exhibit at the British Museum. Sargent and the Sea was a particular joy as it showed the artist in the beginning of his career, with paintings that exhibited vigor and freedom, what one might expect from a young man visiting seaside resorts around Europe. What was entirely unexpected was the quality and maturity of the work.  While we might be familiar with the glory of Sargent portraiture, the mastery of his early compositions is stunning.  The texture of and reflections in the wet sand that he created made me want to take off my shoes and wade into the painting. The side-light creating a corona around a child’s head made you feel the late afternoon sun, a feeling that you are caught between wanting to stay on the shore to take in the last rays of sun and warmth while beginning to think about dinner and rest.

Setting out to Fish, 1878, Corcoran Gallery of Art

The Renaissance Drawings exhibit at the British Museum was familiar territory for me as I have spent many hours in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. But there were delights: The painting of two cheetahs from about 1410 was a real surprise and it was eye opening to see the freedom of expression in the preparatory drawings that was rarely seen in a finished work. But to see the evolution of drawing from the early 1400’s to the height of the Renaissance was revelatory. The progressive refinement and use of perspective, texture, detail, and expression of movement and emotion all culminated in the masterpieces by Da Vinci, Titian, and Michelangelo that we revere.

Drawing/painting on vellum, c. 1410, Workshop of Giovannino de'Grassi

Where is the photography in all this? It’s in our awareness of every sight, every step, every line, every shadow, every bush afire. While looking at a canvas by Seurat at the Kroller-Muller museum I was thrilled to see three distinct compositions in one painting. While talking with my mother about the Sargent works I could see clearly the use of negative space, separation of elements, and side-light to highlight portions of the composition. This charged me, energetically, to go out and SEE more deeply. The inspiration I derive from the Masters of Painting and Sculpture feeds me and helps me to refine my ability to create whole engaging images. Having that experience while preparing for a camera club lecture provided great examples and re-ignited my passion for describing how we can expand our awareness by feeding our brains and our souls with the best imagery available to us.

The gift of awareness is the greatest gift we can offer ourselves.  Cultivate it.  Take off your shoes and touch the warmth of the soil and surf. You will reap an earth crammed with Heaven.

07
Jun
10

Departures

I’ve just returned from a long trip to Brazil that was hard work, thought-provoking, and often just plain good fun. But the circumstances just prior and after the trip have kept me thinking about the deeper meaning of travel. I’ll explain:

Our destination is usually what we’re thinking of when preparing for a trip.  The excitement, the planning, the packing and preparation all combine to keep us looking forward….ahead to our destination.  This is especially true when traveling to a new location or an exotic locale.  But this time, all I could think about was the act of leaving and how that had impacted me and changed the nature of my travel.

Leaving West Virginia to go to New Jersey and then to Brazil to work was a heart-rending experience this time.  I left the hospital, my Grandmother’s bedside, with the doctors telling me I would not see her again. She had been in a coma for 5 days and I had spent the last several nights with her, doing whatever I could to comfort her, and I hoped, ease her passage.  I was also leaving my mother to walk the rest of this journey by herself.  I had no choice, but that only made me feel worse.  And so my departure this time was filled with sadness and introspection.

I began to think about what “home” means to me. I live on two coasts these days with a lot of travel in between to other destinations.  So I’m never really sure where “home” is.  I refer to home as the “other” place that I live depending on where I am at the time.  Several years ago, while living in Europe for a spell, I came to know Paris as my home.  I also experience that going home feeling when I visit and work in California at Barbier Farm or Hope Township, New Jersey.  I know a bit of “home” in the southwest corner of Dartmoor National Park in a little place called Lydia Bridge, on a tree filled hillside in Hunting Valley, Ohio, and on Borgo Pinti in Florence, Italy. And now, having spent several weeks in Brazil, I find myself longing for the home that I discovered just outside of Sao Paolo.

I’ve been lucky in my travel these last ten years.  Often I’ve been able to stay longer than the usual week or so in whatever my destination has been, and I’ve made good friends that I look forward to seeing again.  As I’m writing this I am beginning to understand that I have been able to give myself the comfort of home no matter where I am on the planet, that it is the world we create for ourselves that resonates and lasts.  I’ve learned that departures can be devastating and still the right thing. I’ve learned that the best part of home is a smile and a hug from a loved one. And I’ve learned that those things are waiting for me wherever I go.

When I returned from a walk across Spain in 2001, I was asked repeatedly, “what did you discover?” It took a long time for me to answer that question appropriately. I discovered that the world is a vast and wondrous place, made intimate by the connections we share with others.

Next time I’m departing I’ll remember that I’m always headed home.

30
Mar
10

web of life, rebirth

©Marty Lederhandler

Yes, it’s strange that I would have a boxing picture (of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter) on my blog.  I don’t enjoy violence or violence as sport…..but here are the reasons that it appears.

While reading the NYTimes Lens blog (my favorite photography blog) I saw that Marty Lederhandler had passed at age 92.  He’s an AP Legend and I wanted to spend some time with his work….so I came across this photo.  A very few close friends know that I had the nickname “Lil Larry” as a teenager.  It was more of an endearment, but there it is.  Why “Lil Larry”?  Because my boyfriend at the time playfully said that I was always ready to fight about something.  I think he meant that in a good way…..that I was strong willed.  I looked at the photo and recalled that time and smiled.  Then I looked at the caption on the photo and was very surprised to see that it was taken on October 27, 1962, the night of my birth.  It could have been the instant of my birth for all I know, as I was born at 10:25 pm.

I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately with many personal projects, change, mundane complications with computer and car, care and concern for aging family members, larger issues of the political climate and rancor, the lack of meaningful progress in so many issues that matter to me, and the unrelenting pace of activity in the world….so I’ve been walling myself off a bit.  At the same time, I’ve been kicking myself about it.  Now I have a new perspective and the inspiration is that boxing photograph.

Spring is a time of rebirth, the time after the quiet of winter when new shoots seek the sun and the pulse and purity of life glistens.  Winter and introspection give way to the body’s desire to rouse itself and seek warmth.  So “Lil Larry” is back! I’ve arrived in California to work with Dominique and Debra Barbier and bask in the warmth of friendship, common purpose, and California sunshine.  I’ll suffer through the first three days of accomodating my seatbones to a saddle and smile all the way through it.  There is work to be done and new growth to be nurtured, maybe even change to be effected.

I won’t be taking any photos of boxing, but I will continue to explore new avenues of growth.  I can only hope that one day someone will see a photo of mine and be encouraged to press on, to gather up their strength, tap into all the swirling pace of the world and make their voice heard. Thank you, Marty Lederhandler, for the inspiration and the reminder that there’s a huge world out there….moving along at a furious pace.  After a time of rest and contemplation, all we can do is jump in and start swinging.

Click here for more about Marty Lederhandler:  http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0202/ml03.htm

27
Mar
10

A new opportunity ~ Commissioned work

Readers of this blog know that I do a great deal of work with horses.  I’m expanding that  by offering horse owners, breeders, and barn owners the opportunity to have a custom portfolio made that expresses the love and passion you have for your horses and farm.  This offer is fully custom tailored. After talking with you, I will propose an outline for your shoot.  I’m most interested in learning your desires and what you envision for your portfolio, including the following:  how the work will be used, is it a treasured volume to hold memories, would you like to create  a portrait of the farm or barn, not just the horses, would you like to use images to develop or enhance a website, would you like to enhance or create a blog or newsletter campaign, would you like to include video portraits, or perhaps you would like to create a custom book to offer clients, barn mates, or prospective buyers.

I am able to provide all the services above, including the consulting and implementation to create or enhance your website, blog, or newsletter campaign and the design and production of a fully custom book for your farm or operation.  I’m pleased to note that I’ll be working closely with Rick Holt, teacher/writer/photographer/digital darkroom expert, and with Tim Feather of 110 Front Communications for web implementation, all on an as needed basis.  Rick and Tim have years of experience and the up-to-date knowledge to insure seamless transitions for your internet communications.

The most important ingredient for a successful shoot is a knowledge of and passion for the horse.  I bring along over 25 years of horsemanship to supplement my experience behind the lens.  As a farm owner I know the long hours of labor that goes into creating a haven that exhibits your care for the horse’s well-being.  I’ll work hard to reflect all these attributes in your portfolio.  I look forward to helping you portray and capture the unique qualities of your horses and their home.

Spring is upon us and the horses will be shedding their furriness…..contact me!  keron@tanatyva.com

Here’s an eclectic mix from farms and events around the world.  I hope you enjoy…..and please, explore the rest of the blog for other equestrian images.  You might like to visit Dominique Barbier’s blog  as well: www.dominiqueanddebrabarbier.wordpress.com

15
Mar
10

Mirroring

It’s been too long since I’ve been able to put up a blog post.  My apologies.  I’ve been thinking about it nearly every day though and until yesterday I hadn’t a clear idea of what I wanted to say.

One of my favorite concepts in relationship (any kind of relationship….friend, child, parent, employer, among many) is mirroring.  That is, when you are engaged with someone in a conversation you might consider that you are talking to yourself, or that the issues that arise between you are really your own issues.  Bear with me,  this does relate to photography. If you find yourself, like me, in a bit of  a rut or just working on too many other projects to clear some time for introspection, try this idea:  Reach out to a friend working on a project and listen to what they are doing, what they might need, or some area of struggle for them.  Chances are, if you have listened deeply and begin to create a response from the heart, those words will be meant for you as well.  In the middle of my conversation with my marvelous friend Honey, I heard myself saying to her just exactly what I needed to hear as well.  It was one of those great AHA moments.

What were the words?  “When you are clear in yourself about the value of your work, then you will speak with authority about it and the Universe will bring opportunities to demonstrate an appropriate response.”

So now I’m going to listen to that and FINISH my proposal for private shoots with horses and farms.  In April, May, and June, I’ll be traveling to photograph horses and farms in the Chicago area and in New Jersey.  I’m excited to begin this new endeavor and will post some of the results upon completion.  Until then, here are a couple of photographs that pop into my mind when thinking of mirroring.  Mirroring is not simply reflection…..for me, it is seeing something that reflects a state of mind or contemplation, and even communication.

23
Feb
10

lunch with a friend and the business of photography

I had lunch today with Tim Grey, friend, author of many great books on image editing, creator of wonderful instructional DVD’s, and the Ask Tim Grey newsletter.  As always, it was great fun catching up and exchanging stories, but the crux of the conversation was this:  How does a freelance photographer/writer/educator make their way in today’s economy?  Most of the professionals I know have income streams in several areas.  These almost always include workshops, lectures, and product sales, either of their own, or a percentage of sales with sponsors whose products they use.  But our conversation kept drilling down to how best to allocate time.  As a former owner of a business (over 100 employees) I confronted this issue daily.  When we were terribly busy in the plant I would jump in to add my labor to make a deadline ~ but was it the best use of my time?  Tim’s confronting the same issues….as am I now, as a photographer.  Where is the balance between self promotion, shooting, teaching, keywording, stock submissions or making prints/books/dvds.

After thinking about the two photographers I know personally that are still thriving in this economy, I think the answer must be that more time is needed in self promotion.  Alain Briot and Tony Sweet have maintained their workshops, their product sales, and private teaching in a continually contracting market.  How did they do it?  Continual self promotion and of course, huge amounts of hard work…..all geared to offering a product (their knowledge) that has real value.  When I applied this thought to my own work as I am clearly not a photoshop Dream Team member (Tim) or a landscape photography master (Alain) or a Nikon Legend (Tony), I had to distill what it is that I know that may have value for someone else.  So here’s my self promotion:

I know books.  I know bookbinding, a fair amount about book design, I know about printing, both offset and fine art inkjet, and I know about publishing and distribution.  All of this came from nearly 20 years in the printing and binding industries in the Mid-Atlantic states and with several years now of producing fine art prints and books for consulting clients and for myself.   I have created a book in collaboration with Dominique Barbier of which I am very proud.  It is titled MEDITATION FOR TWO and is available on Dominique’s website.  From this book I have received several commissions for shoots and am anticipating that this market will grow as the book garners a wider distribution.   But I have also received inquiries about helping people put together their own books and assisting them through the process from concept to distribution.  I’m writing all this to illustrate how one endeavor can create avenues of work and further recognition.  Next time, when you are thinking about a project, try to envision the other areas that it could impact your work and hopefully, your income stream.  If the project is created from deep knowledge and love of your subject, coupled with a precise plan for getting the work seen, your likelihood of success is virtually assured.

Here’s an illustration of the front and back covers…and a few shots from inside.

14
Feb
10

glow….and Happy Valentine’s Day

As I type this I am struck by how awkward the word glow looks.  Yet the quality or attribute of glowing in a photograph is anything but awkward.  I’m talking about subtlety…not a plug-in or technique.  I’m not anti-plug-ins, the truth is I have very little knowledge of or experience with them.  But I’m talking about recognizing something in the light and tone of shapes and moments that translate into glowing photographs. This morning, I had a wonderful breakfast with my son in a favorite spot here in Seattle.  As is my habit, I photographed the setting.  A fleeting glance at the display told me that I might have a nicely glowing photograph.  It’s not a prize winner, but it is a sweet reminder of a glowing moment, and a reminder too, of many other happy moments in this spot.  And when I started to gather a few photos for this blog post I was struck by the happy memories that each called forth.  A coincidence?  No.  I feel very strongly that when we are in a glowing mood…the energy attracts the same.  We see how we feel.  It’s just another variation of my belief that we photograph as we are.

I’ll be back this week with some ‘serious’ photographs…but for now, Happy Valentine’s Day.  Wishing you lots of glow for your day, your life, and your photographs.

07
Feb
10

serendipity: aka photographer’s luck

“We live only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting.” Kahlil Gibran

Last weekend I went to Healdsburg to photograph a client.  Because this was the first time I was photographing a person for a job I had more than the usual nervousness.  As the insecurity and senseless internal dialogue was brewing I knew I had to do something to get out of that energy if I was going to create successful photographs.  For me, a successful photograph includes many elements, but the foremost is the satisfaction of the client.  Readers of this blog will know that I am familiar with the location and have photographed horses at Barbier Farms many times.  I am always a little anxious about seeing things new in a setting that is somewhat limited and thoroughly known.  So I slowed my breathing and switched the internal dialogue from the static channel to the compassionate, grateful channel.  I met the client with a smile, listened to her desires for the photographs, suggested a few settings and started to work.

I know that everything I am saying is simple, perhaps even simplistic.  But it is too easy to forget and get caught up in thinking about what comes next or what if this or what if that….rather than just being still and taking in all the information that is being sent.  My client and friend, Candida, was giving me her thoughts about the movements that she wanted photographed….the light was changing rapidly….the dogs were playing…activity in the barn was picking up as it was feeding time…..other clients were coming to the barn for lessons….and through all of this, remembering to smile kept me centered and calm.  Soon there was a flow to the shoot akin to the gentle pace of deep water moving.  It was undisturbed and developed a quiet energy as we progressed.  By this time the light was getting  a little higher and stronger than I wanted and I let some doubt creep in….just as I silenced that thought and asked Candida to move to another area,  I caught the reflected light off the horse’s mane onto my friend’s face.  We were able to play with that for quite a few minutes and I enjoyed a bit of photographer’s luck.

The shoot was a tremendous gift for me as it brought more fullness to my resolve to create calm and expanded awareness in the midst of a great deal of activity.  Further, I think that my ability to project that created ease for my client, and certainly for the horses as they are so aware of all that is happening on the physical, emotional, and etheric levels.  I am looking forward to the next challenge of this kind and seeing what gift is in store, what serendipity arises.  It’s all around us.  We just have to remember to find and to feel our smile.

23
Jan
10

on shepherds and breathing life into art

Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.
Winston Churchill   

Family and close friends know that I am an ardent admirer of Winston Churchill.  Aside from his magnificent careers in politics and literature and that little matter of holding the candle for the free world for a time, Mr. Churchill was  a prolific and accomplished painter.  He had the ability to stop whatever he was doing and totally focus on his painting when he felt the need to step back from his tremendous burdens.  It was a comfort and a tonic to him his entire adult life.  Photography and writing give me that gift….now I’m going to add some bubbles. 

I’ve written about the impact that painting has on my photography and the way it opens my eyes and heart to see things new.  The visual history and legacies that have been left to us by artists since time began can inform and help to shape new work.  While reading a poem by Pablo Neruda, I saw an illustration today that I liked very much.  It has triggered my desire expand my thinking when I am photographing to consider subjects for other uses; for example textures as overlays, or patterns to give structure…and images, like poetry, as allusions.  This is not revolutionary, but it will help me to widen my field of view and express something that is new to me.   With Uelsmann and Caponigro and other masters in the field as shepherds, I’ll breathe some more life into my own journey. 

These are my first attempts to see with the idea of joining elements.

20
Jan
10

carrying the water

As a photographer I have dreamed of creating the kind of work that Damon Winter, James Nachtwey, Lynsey Addario, Ron Haviv, Colin Finlay and many other amazing people do every day.  Perhaps one day I will.  But for now, these folks are carrying the water…doing the heavy lifting to show the world the indelible face of tragedy, suffering, and loss on a scale that we struggle to comprehend.  I follow this blog daily:  Lens: The New York Times Photo Blog.  Take a look.  Visit their sites.  Involve yourself in a reality far removed from our own…but in the most important way, inextricably linked, as we are all human.  Now, let’s show some humanity. 

Visit Partners in Health, Doctors without Borders,  and help, please.  It does make a difference.  And if you do, email me.  I’ll send you a 10×15 print of any image from this blog to say thank you.  I’m not a registered 501(c)3…..I just want to help in the biggest way possible.  (Empty hands, but full heart….) 

with deep respect,  Keron

keron AT tanatyva.com

01
Jan
10

new images from looking back

For the last couple of years I have made sure that I photograph first thing in the morning on the first day of the new year.  This morning was no exception, but it had a little twist.  I have been driving by this particular scene each day, twice a day, for over a year and today was my day to stop and photograph it.  The delay is due mostly to the fact that it is only accessible from a busy on-ramp in the Washington Park Arboretum.  But today being a holiday, and one that had many people sleeping in, I was able to park off to the side of the ramp and photograph undisturbed for long periods of time.

Tony Sweet, Eddie Soloway, and William Neill (among many) are doing marvelous impressionistic work.  It’s fresh, engaging, and their work is expanding the boundary of our vision, much as the Impressionist painters did in the 1860’s and 1870’s.  It took decades for their revolutionary way of seeing to catch on with the public and then with the art collectors.  Things haven’t changed a great deal.  During a layover in Denver International Airport on Tuesday, I looked up and saw Ernst Haas’ image of a toreador and bull in motion advertising some service or product….to which I paid no attention. But the image stuck. These were some of the first, and still most engaging, images of movement in color and they are from the 1950’s!  Freeman Patterson carried that particular baton a long way with his dedication to impressionistic vision and experimenting with layers of images and other darkroom techniques.  Tony, Bill, and Eddie are standing on his shoulders and reaching new heights and hopefully, new collectors and buyers.

Are my images radically different?  Not at all.  Then why make them, you might ask…..I make them to refine my vision, to teach me to see more deeply and to know what my camera will see when I am using a different technique.  I make them to understand what it is that is pleasing or intriguing about a given image.  In this way I might be able to teach with more clarity or to open a door to further exploration of the subject.  And finally, I make my images to know myself, to stay engaged in the conversation of living.

There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are”
Ernst Haas

 

 

31
Dec
09

Tenderness

Perhaps it’s the time of year and the time for looking back that has placed the word tenderness in my heart and on my mind.   Holidays, combined with thoughts of re-birth with the coming new year keep thoughts of family and friends present. 

I’ve been reviewing the year in pictures, both my own and the various collections spread all over the internet.  One of the best compilations of images comes from The New York Times  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/world/2009-decade.html#/intro. The ones that have stayed with me are the tender photographs.   The subject matter, in the case of The New York Times photographs, is often fierce, but the approach has been gentle and the respect for the dignity of the subject apparent.  These are the photos that I want to make in the coming year.  I have several personal projects under way that will demand attention to this objective: A story of the Navajo families in Canyon de Chelly and the life of the farm workers and inhabitants of several Lusitano fazendas in Brazil.  These will be challenging for me as I am unused to photographing people.  I’m looking forward to the deeper connection that this will bring to my life and my relationships with family, friends, and community. 

I wish you a very Happy New Year, with the blessings of good health and connection to loved ones.  And for photographers and non-photographers…..in the words of Irving King and Harry Woods by way of Otis Redding, try a little tenderness.

16
Dec
09

Road Trip, part 2

The most viewed images from the first road-trip post are the horse images…. so I thought I’d post a few more of my favorites.  The inherent beauty of the horse makes them marvelous subjects and it also makes it easier to create  a successful photograph.  But there are challenges as well.  I am terribly discerning with my horse photographs because I know what the correct postures are from an equestrian viewpoint, and I’m looking for meaningful gesture from a photographer’s viewpoint.  Then I want good lighting, dramatic lighting even…..and the last component must be the essence or the soul of the horse.  This is a tall order, but having access to Debra and Dominique’s farm makes it possible to have some success.

Visiting the farm is like going home for me.  My stallion, Fol Amour, lives there now to enjoy his retirement in his first home. He’s the old man of the barn now at 26, and while still active and working it is bittersweet to see him aging. I am just beginning to photograph him. I don’t have an answer as to why I haven’t been doing it, seriously, for all these years. It’s a regret that I must live with.  

Generally, I am happy with this group of images.  I was able to produce a couple different types of images in the midst of action and changing light.  We were there for less than two hours before we had to begin our trek up the coast.  But of course that bit of modest success fuels the fire to return!

11
Dec
09

thawing out from road trip

I’m just back from a 4.5 day roadtrip that began in Healdsburg, California, and ended in Seattle.  I was joined by Rick Holt, fabulous image editing instructor, fellow teacher, and photo buddy.  Our plan was to photograph horses in Healdsburg at Debra and Dominique Barbier’s  vineyard and farm, then cruise the California coast by taking the back way  up and over to Mendocino and then following highway 101 all the way north to Astoria, Oregon.  We were hoping for coastal fog and mist to lend some atmosphere to sea stacks, redwood trees and California oak images.   

Horses?  Check.  Highway 101? Check.  Mist, fog, atmosphere? Nada.  We drove for 4.5 days and never saw a cloud in the sky.  Not one.  But the painfully cold temps did give us some unexpected photographer’s luck.  Ice coated grasses, hoarfrost covered forests and meadows, and delicately frosted leaves on the shoreline delighted us each morning.  We were both slightly unprepared for pre-dawn with wind and frigid temps, but in our “hey, we’re out shooting!!!” euphoria, it didn’t matter that much.  

I’m back in Seattle now with an invigorated passion for exploration and appreciation of serendipity.  Here’s a small gallery from the trip.  I’ll be posting more over the next several days and will talk about the specific subjects and locations. 

25
Nov
09

A Thanksgiving post

I’ve spoken of gratitude in previous posts and yet today it seems appropriate to give thanks to my teachers and to teachers everywhere.  I’ll take this idea a little further and give thanks to my students as well.  For they are the reason that teaching is a joy. 

The teachers I have had in my photographic life come from many different backgrounds.  The one characteristic that sets the great ones apart from the good ones is their ability to set aside their personal vision and engage in a genuine manner the student’s interests and body of work.  Simply, there is no ego in great teaching.   When we are connected to another person in this selfless way then we allow magic to happen; perhaps a clearer vision emerges for the student, or the courage to show work publicly, or to tackle a completely new technique or project.   It is likely that the teacher will not know the result of their effort or the lasting effect a conversation or workshop might  have.  But once in a while a little magic happens and we hear from a former student or see a book published or exhibit hung that allows you to think “Yes! I had a little part in that.”  And as this is so inspiring, the circle is complete.  

I had this bit of magic delivered to me last week in the form of an email from a student.  And the week before I enjoyed a break from my routine and had lunch with a former student.  In both instances I was deeply moved…and humbled…by their gracious remarks and their appropriate pride in the work they have been creating since our times together. 

Teach, tutor, or mentor….whatever you have time for!  You will see more deeply and appreciate the amazing ability of your students to see things in a way that you could never dream.  It’s just another way to say that whatever we give comes back to us in far greater measure.   Take a moment to email or write to a teacher whose efforts made a lasting impression.  The joy you will create is immeasurable.

My small gallery today comes from a time when I was challenged, intimidated, yet determined after remarks from my dearest teacher set me on a collision course with my photographic inadequacies. And so, to use a word I learned from my fellow Pilgrims on the path to Santiago de Compostela: Ultreia! (Onward, with courage!)….and I would add, gratitude.

 

17
Nov
09

knowing your subject too well?

In my last post I mentioned that in order to photograph your subject well you must know it deeply.  But knowing my subject too well became a challenge.  Upon my return from Europe in the summer of 2006 I was deeply frustrated photographically.  I had spent the previous four months photographing in France, Italy, England, and Holland, and then had a magical trip on a yacht up through the Southeast Passage in Alaska.  The visual feast of having something new and exciting to see for virtually every second of every day had dulled my senses to the familiar.   I turned back to my books for inspiration and a new subject.  This statement, from Ernst Haas, changed my thinking in an instant:  “I am not interested in shooting new things, I am interested to see things new.”  

I am not overstating it to say this sentence changed my life.  I went out that evening  to see things new; things (my home town) that I had such familiarity with that I could tell you when a certain flower or shrub would bloom in a particular back yard, or when a building was last painted, and didn’t it need painting again?  There is value in knowing something so well, I suppose it’s the meaning in the phrase “my home town”.  Shepherdstown had been my home for 44 years at this point….and with the arrival of Ian and Jessica, my family had called Shepherdstown “home” for six generations.  I never could have predicted that I would move, or move all the way across the country to Seattle…but that summer, my last summer in Shepherdstown, taught me that I can photograph wherever I am….an exotic locale or from my elevator each morning….and see things new.

13
Nov
09

The landscape of memory

Thinking of Eudora Welty’s landscape triggered thoughts of my own.  Growing up on a small farm outside of Shepherdstown, WV, shaped me in particular ways.  It was a quiet place with 40 acres to roam that was bordered by larger farms on all sides.  There was a marsh and stream on the front of the property that  would flood in the winter and spring, thereby making a long walk to the end of the lane for the bus a soggy, cold task.   There were woods at the back of the farm that remained  mysterious, there was a spring on the north side that I was convinced was a haven for cottonmouth snakes (probably not, but still scary), and we had a great old barn with a hay loft and stalls beneath.  While the memory of that landscape is clear, and dear to me in many ways, what I’ve realized is that my personality was shaped by this experience of place.  By nature I was a quiet child, content to be alone.  Having the farm to roam and explore encouraged that and it also insisted that I develop the capacity for introspection and long periods of solitary pursuits.  Walking and reading became the rhythm of my life on the farm.  Book in hand, dog at my side, off I’d go to find a place to settle for a while.   My two favorite books:  Frederick the Mouse, by Leo Lionni, and Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh.   

Frederick_cover

What does all of this have to do with photography?  I think it’s central to who I am as a photographer. Harriet was insistently curious and engaged with the world outside her, but in a stealthy, analytical way.  Frederick was consumed with “storing” the rays of the sun, the colors of the poppies, and the scents of the new-mown meadows to offer to his extended mouse family when the days of winter were long and bleak.   I believe it’s essential to know your subject deeply to photograph it well, so I put the time in to educate myself about a place or place in time (The South, or Pre-War Paris, for example).  But after all that work is done, I open my heart while photographing, to absorb the feeling and gather the sensory feast in front of me.  It can be a solitary pursuit, but offering  the harvest connects me to an ever growing community. 

Rocky Marsh evening, II

late summer evening, Rocky Marsh, near Shepherdstown, West Virginia

10
Nov
09

Eudora Welty and the photography of the South

I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to write about a literary background for photography, not just my photography, but how it shaped a landscape for others as well.  When I first picked up the book, The Well and the Mine, by Gin Phillips, I was attracted to the cover photograph.  As it was a staff pick at Elliott Bay, and a signed copy, I was happy to carry it home.  Sometime during my reading of it, I saw that the cover photograph was one by Eudora Welty.  This was a surprise to me as I was not then aware of her considerable talent and early devotion to photography.  I knew Eudora Welty only through her marvelous novels and short stories.  She makes this comment about photography: “Life doesn’t hold still……Photography taught me that to be able to capture transience, by being ready to click the shutter at the crucial moment, was the greatest need I had”.  Traveling and photographing throughout the South during the Great Depression gave Welty the time to examine the lives of others and to hold those moments still….as if to gather them for a later harvest in her stories. 

The cover photograph, along with the time and place of the story, planted a thought…..and then came the opportunity to take a road trip through Alabama by making a wide arc before my final destination in the Florida panhandle.  While driving I remembered the other great photographers of the era and decided that Hale County was my destination.  I had no particular spot that I wanted to visit, I just wanted to see the country they had seen.  This means getting off the highway and searching for ever smaller roads.  There were no interstates, shopping malls or travel plazas in 1935.  I needed to find red clay roads. 

I had only a day to wander, and I didn’t create a photographic masterpiece.  No matter…….my intention was to travel in the footsteps of the Masters for a bit….to get my own sense of Gin Phillips’ physical and emotional landscape in The Well and the Mine.   I knew, too, that Walker Evans’ masterpiece of the Fields family on their porch was photographed in Hale county.  I wanted to find those porches, the sharecropper’s shacks.  Not that porch or that shack, just a general feel for the time.  I stopped at high noon in front of a dilapidated old crossroads store to make a couple of photographs.  There were two stray dogs there and blazing light, little else.  I made the landscape shot, then went closer and photographed some details on the storefront: the narrow strips of siding with inumerable coats of paint, a shutter with a horseshoe, vines covering the sides and growing over a doorway. 

Fast forward to my return to Seattle.  While browsing through photography books in Elliott Bay, I picked up a new volume on Walker Evans.  The page fell open to a photograph titled  Sprott Store, Hale County, Alabama.   I was stunned.  There was the the building I photographed.  There was the horseshoe.  The facade had a second story at that time, but there it was…..right at the intersection of those three dirt roads.   Life did hold still for me in that moment, the intervening 80 years fell away and my heart was connected to that landscape, that time, those photographers.    The literature of place and time was the underpinning for my journey and a deeper understanding of place and subject.  That is its own reward.  All else is an embarrassment of riches.  As if to prove that point, at Christmas last year I was given an old copy of Walker Evans’ volume that accompanied his Museum of Modern Art collection  in New York.  The cover photograph:  Sprott Store.  Imagine the surprise when I recounted this story to the unsuspecting giver.

bottle_tree

Bottle Tree, Eudora Welty, a scene later depicted in her short story "Livvie".

 For additional images from Walker Evans and my photograph of Sprott Store, please click on “Walker Evans, etc.” in the menu bar under the blog title.

 

07
Nov
09

of painting and photography

A comment from a friend has encouraged me to write about my deep belief in the connection that painting has to my photography.  Though I am not a painter I am a lover and longtime collector of paintings.  Decades before I had any thought of creating a life in photography, I spent long hours with my nose buried in books about the Masters.  First, Monet, then led by a painter friend I discovered Bonnard and Cezanne and I took off from there.  I collected the finest books I could about painters and museum collections.  Then I began to travel to see shows and collections.  During that time I lived on the East Coast and had easy access to the museums in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York.  Eventually I was able to visit the museums and shows in London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Florence.  Keep in mind….there was still no photography in my life. 

What I was doing, without knowing it, was creating a rich visual library; reference points or a catalog in my mind and in my heart of color, line, form, composition, light, shadow, and feeling.  I was developing a very critical eye for discerning the qualities that allowed one painting to rise up over another.  My favorite paintings are now like old friends.  I visit them and am filled with the comfort and renewed spirit that comes from sitting with a dear friend.  It’s my reassurance that there is beauty in the world to be created.  And so I am not surprised, but truly delighted when I “see” a photograph that brings forth the feeling of a favorite painter.  To be able to say to myself  “aha…this is what Kahn might have seen”  or “Oh! This is Wyeth’s palette” is gratifying and illuminating.  This visual heritage, this wealth of knowledge  is available to each of us.   As humans and as photographers, our lives are richer when we avail ourselves of this treasure.

05
Nov
09

Grace and creative inspiration

After PorterEphemeral, yet the impression is lasting and grows in strength as time passes; this is how I recall moments of Grace.  The experience of having recognized an extraordinary moment, and then created an image that communicates the essence of what I saw, fills me with the inspiration to continue to seek those moments.   Grace is subtle, fleeting.  We must cultivate awareness in order to be ready when it appears. 

In the fall of 2008, while teaching with my buddy Rick Holt in the Poconos of Eastern Pennsylvania, I created my favorite photograph from that year.  We started at 5 that morning in order to catch the mist and fog if we had a bit of photographer’s luck.  It was still quite dark upon reaching our destination but I knew there were photographs to be made in the coming pre-dawn.  Walking slowly along the lake shore I could see some outlines of slender birches and then I could make out some gleaming yellow leaves.  I walked a bit further, but within 10 minutes I had come back to that spot.  I could feel a photograph calling.  When I returned I noticed there was just enough light to refine the composition and illuminate the mist that was lying densely in the woods behind.   Stillness fell upon the scene, the leaves held their breath, and I made a number of exposures, experimenting with and refining the framing.  The whole episode might have lasted 5 minutes, but the strength of purpose, confidence, and gratitude that I experience from that time has sustained me through the last year.  

I’m anxious to write more about visual literacy and how we, as photographers, can expand our abilities by caring for the vast store of imagery that has been given to us by the Masters of painting, drawing, sculpting, and photography.  Perhaps you’ll tell me about your favorites?

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

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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