Snow Day

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ha, wrong camo for snow

This morning I stumbled into the kitchen to get my coffee going and out my window I saw snow flurries falling from the sky. Next thing I know there’s a flurry of excitement about this strange white stuff we rarely get to experience in East Texas. A few inches and you’d think we were in a blizzard. I braved the cold for a little bit to snap a few pictures.

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That red shed thingy in the middle of the picture really stood out.

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It’s hard to get close enough to shoot birds cuz they always fly away. I’ve only experienced a handful of snow days. Once as a child, it never snowed in the Mojave Desert and the one day it did I was sick and didn’t get to enjoy it with my friends.

I spent a New Years Eve with some friends when I was 13. We jumped on the snow covered trampoline and got soaked. Warmed up by the fireplace and went back out to go sledding. We didn’t have sleds so we made do with something that ended up tearing up our knees and shins. And once in college I had a test I wasn’t prepared for and I was hoping for a snow day but I didn’t get it.

 

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What Is The Ghost of Xmas Past?

I don’t have much time to live in the past when I’m living in the moment. Growing up, I hated to watch the older people in my life cry in their beer over the past and whine about how much today sucks. I didn’t understand . . . especially since I was standing right there.

Don’t get me wrong, I love remembering the past. I live in the house my grandpa built. I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know him since he died when I was almost 2, but I love hearing my parent’s memories of him. I’m living on his property in the house that he built when my mom was a teenager, so that his family would always have a home. It’s a great way to remember something we don’t have anymore.

Feeling Nostalgic

Most of my memories are vivid because I was living in the moment and actively storing them in my heart and in my memory banks. I wanted to fully experience it right then and always remember it. And I often go back in my mind and re-experience those moments and it’s awesome.

I’ve never actually longed to go back, or felt such a strong sense of loss that I desired a time machine. BUT these past couple of months I have been haunted by strange feelings of nostalgia. It’s not that awesome. Or is it? 

Nostalgia – a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.

Like when a child becomes a teenager. It’s beautiful to watch and see who they’re becoming, but at the same time I experience loss because I’ll never be able to be with him as a little child anymore.

To be able to hold him and watch him experience everything for the first time. I can go back anytime and experience my vivid memories and photos/videos but now, in the moment that time is gone forever.

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I recently heard from a friend I haven’t seen in 9 years. We’ve known each other for 22 years and she sent me a picture of her wearing these xmas earrings I made for her in the 6th grade. I had completely forgotten about them until I saw them in that pic and they triggered so many memories that I haven’t thought of in a long time. 

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The earrings 

Photos and Memories

It made me wonder about these moments we experience and the effect photography has on them. Some people say that you’re not really living in the moment when you’re so concerned about taking a picture. It’s possible to do both. I’ve managed to photograph moments with my camera and my mind . . . and sometimes photos will trigger memories so strongly that it becomes easier to remember.

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Rd Trip through Louisiana

What about in psychology where studies show that memories aren’t really that accurate? Humans tend to remember the past better than it actually was. Or what about when memories have been tainted by time and discussion?

Maybe that’s why they cry in their beer and long for that old relationship or wish their children were young again. Maybe the changes or lack of changes a person has made, creates a rift in relationships and makes you feel an unreasonable longing for the past.

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Box of Photos

I guess a healthy dose of nostalgia isn’t so bad. The passage of time exists and we gotta embrace it and enjoy it. Like that Doris Day song says, Que Sera Sera, whatever will be will be.

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Disney Version

If we fully embrace the good, the bad, the neutral, the everyday we can experience life in it’s rawest and purest form. How about you . . . are you being haunted by the ghost of xmas past? Maybe it’s not a ghost at all . . . maybe it’s just a little bit of wisdom about life.

Can Snapshots be Art? Quick Pics 13-17

These are the last 5 quick pics that I took while hanging out with Speedy. I’ve had a lot of fun with this concept and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep shooting the Speedy way, even when he’s not around. A lot of my pics were crap and I’ll be deleting them, but I think it’s safe to say that snapshots can definitely be art.

Quick Pic 13: Guy with Untied Boots

We just stopped to eat and I saw this guy with his boots untied . . . he actually looked like he wasn’t completely finished getting dressed.Wow, and up hill too. 🙃

Quick Pic 14: Lady with Bright Orange Kicks

We were sitting at a very long red light when I noticed this lady’s bright orange shoes. I’m torn . . . I kinda like this pic but I also don’t. After I tried a few things, I finally decided to turn down the saturation on everything except their shoes and purses.

Quick Pic 15: Gnarly Tree 

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I like how gnarly the branches are so I included it.

Quick Pic 16: Her Piano Keys 

We stopped at someone’s house and I wandered into this dark room where I found a piano. I shined the light on my phone and snapped a couple of quick pics. I liked this one the best and I played with the split toning in Lightroom.

Quick Pic 17: Fish Tank Dragon

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We ran into this giant Pet Sense to get a new collar for my dog, Sunny. Their selection was pretty sorry for such a huge store, so I didn’t get a collar . . . I did grab this pic in the fish area though. And I played around with the split toning with this one too.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my quick pics and I’d love to know your thoughts about snapshots and their place in the art world.

Can Snapshots be Art? Quick Pics 7-12

A quick Google search says that a snapshot is an informal photograph taken quickly, typically with a small handheld camera. I enjoy shooting with my purple Panasonic DMC-SZ3 Lumix because it’s small and easy to carry anywhere I go. It’s got a Leica Lens and it allows for a wide range of control over the settings. It’s also pretty sturdy and has withstood my clumsy abuse.

Below are 6 more quick pics I took while hanging with my friend Speedy.

Quick Pic 7: View of East Texas Land +18 Vibrance

There’s really nothing spectacular about this picture but I like it. I like how blurry the foreground is and thought it would be fun to add a bunch of vibrancy and make that blue, green, and yellow really burst.

Quick Pic 8: 2 Old Cars

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I love shooting old cars. Speedy was driving fast as usual, but after staring at this pic for a while, I’m not sure I could have gotten a better shot if we stopped . . . I mean, I could have of course, but I probably would have made it too complicated.

Quick Pic 9: House with Slanty Roof, b&w

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This is one of my favorites. I’m so drawn to it. I love the lighting and the composition. It gives me a feeling of nostalgia and it triggers feelings associated with random memories that I can’t really fully remember. I also think of Miracle on 34th street . . . I guess I thought of that movie because she wanted a house. Hmm, I should watch that soon.

Quick Pic 10: Little White Sign

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Another favorite. I think Speedy was actually speeding because I barely remember taking this pic. I like odd things in odd places. Why is there a tiny little white sign all by itself out there? Maybe the words are on the other side of the sign. Oh, and those oil spots on the road add a bit of visual interest and balance. Not too bad for a quick pic. If it was hanging in a gallery it would get some attention. Sometimes it’s the simple things that spark lively conversation.

Quick Pic 11: The Surveillance

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Ahh feels good to photograph the surveillance. They’re everywhere, always watching, always focusing. I tried to create a sense of discomfort. Eh, it’s an ok quick pic. Not a fav. I had fun playing around in Lightroom though. 

Quick Pic 12: Untitled, b&w

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We had just pulled into a parking spot and we were sitting there for a minute waiting on the lady who parked right next to us. All of a sudden we heard a loud thud and slight movement. She actually hit his door with her door and left a tiny paint mark. I snapped this shot very quickly as I was walking by. 

Can Snapshots be Art? Quick Pics 1-6

At times, when I’m chillin with my friend (let’s call him Speedy), who doesn’t like to stop, I am forced to take pictures while going 70 mph down the road. One day Speedy absolutely refused to stop and I missed so many picture opportunities. I could have gotten very discouraged and frustrated . . .  but that didn’t sound like fun so I decided to challenge myself and see what kind of snapshots I can come up with.

I like to embrace the freedom and possibilities of stepping out of my comfort zone, or challenging any lingering, pre-conceived ideas about the process of making “art” especially with photography. Many artists and non – artists have asked the question: Can a snapshot really be considered art? Hmm . . . 

Quick Pic 1: Wooden Fence, B&W

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Before 

 

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After

I’ve taken many pictures on this road and something always grabs my attention. I managed to get Speedy to stop for this one, but only while he turned the car around. I’m not crazy about this quick pic, but I chose to include it because there’s just something about it.

Quick Pic 2: Shadow of a Tall Tree

I had a few minutes to shoot this one because Speedy had a quick stop to make. The sun was pretty high and casting this huge tree shadow. I didn’t like the warmer image on the left, so I tried to be inspired by cross processing, and made it a little bluer.

Quick Pic 3: Objects in Mirrors, b&w

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Before

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After

I like that baby mirror in the corner, and including the camera and photographer can be fun sometimes. Especially with that pinky up for balance purposes. I also thought it was more interesting in b&w.

Quick Pic 4: Blurry Trees

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I like the angle, the blurriness, and the way the sun is glowing. Reminds me of a picture taken on a toy camera.

Quick Pic 5: Birds on the Power Lines at the Gas Station

In one of my b&w film classes, I remember being very captivated by a guy who did a series of birds on power lines. It’s hard to remember all of his thoughts behind his photographs, but his series was in the back of my mind when I took this quick pic.   

Quick Pic 6: Xmas Light Pic the Speedy Way

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I was ruthlessly picking on Speedy by this point and taking pictures of everything as the world zoomed on by. This one reminds me of the red and blue blur . . . y’know, Clark Kent on Smallville . . . aka Superman.

Cows Butting Heads at Sunrise

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First cow picture taken

In the early days of my exploration of photography, I was 7, visiting family in Texas where these strange creatures called cows were everywhere. I was living in the Mojave Desert in Southern California at the time where cows weren’t so common, so they definitely had my attention. Everyone was confused and weirded out that I was wasting the film in my disposable camera on boring things like cows. “What is she taking pictures of?” they would all ask in bewilderment.

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Well, I am still taking pictures of boring cows. But, they aren’t that boring. Once they notice that I’m there, they quit what they’re doing and all of a sudden 20 cows are staring at me and walking quickly towards me. Each time this happens, I immediately have a flashback of the time I was fishing with my dad on his family farm for the first time, and I turned around and saw a herd of cows appear out of nowhere and start coming at me. I totally freaked out, while my dad was totally chill. “It’s ok, they’re just looking for food.”

That’s what I was afraid of . . . they’re ready to get back at me for all those delicious cheeseburgers I’ve enjoyed. 

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Lately we’ve been having some psychedelic colored sunrises so I got up bright and early hoping to get something interesting. I stopped at a ranch on the picturesque farm road I drive down daily. I was sorta bummed out that the sunset colors weren’t as cool looking as the previous mornings when I didn’t have time to stop.

As the sun was rising, I noticed cows were grazing in the distance and then I spotted 2 cows butting heads. I love when I get the opportunity to see animals behaving in their environment.

 

 

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If I could have gotten inside the fence and gotten closer I could have included the sunset and gotten some better detail of the cows and the water. I wasn’t about to trespass though, so I had to take the pictures from really far away.

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Two Invaluable Traits We can Learn from Former White House Photographer Pete Souza

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Meet photojournalist Pete Souza. Former Chief Official White House Photographer for two former American presidents: Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. He’s just come out with a book, Obama: An Intimate Portrait, where he shares 300 of the nearly 2 million photographs that he took during President Obama’s two terms in office. With that kind of CV we photographers need to pay attention to this guy.

Trust

I happened to catch Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning interviewing Souza, and he asked him how he earned complete trust from President Obama. Any photographers out there know that if you’re following someone around documenting them you’re going to be apart of intimate moments.

Souza told Charlie Rose that he actually knew Mr. Obama for 4 years before he became president. They had already built a professional relationship and over time he built on that trust each day.

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It’s very important for the photographer to earn trust so that the people getting their photo taken will feel comfortable. The first engagement shoot I ever did was really easy because I was best friends with both the bride and the groom. When I asked them to kiss we all turned deep red for a moment.

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We quickly finished laughing and they let their guard down and I captured the fleeting moment. It helps when you ask them how they met or how he proposed. They’ll quickly get comfortable, forget you’re there and give you plenty of photo opportunities. Which brings me to the 2nd invaluable trait:

Invisibility

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Who hasn’t wished they had the super power of invisibility? Co-anchor Norah O’ Donnell mentioned how President Obama actually forgot that Souza was in the room; that he pretty much became invisible. Wow. I have no problem becoming invisible while shooting birthday parties and weddings . . . but this guy did it in the White House. Color me impressed! I’m sure his previous experience with President Reagan didn’t hurt.

I don’t have any tips on developing your invisibility . . . it pretty much came naturally to me. (I’m short.) Or maybe the camera is actually a cloaking device . . .  people do want to look good and natural in their photos, so they just live in the moment.

sam elliott the ranch

I like the show on Netflix, The Ranch. Sam Elliot’s character has a running line where he says in his deep drawl that he hates everyone, except [fill in the blank]. In one he says, “I hate everyone, except Ronald Reagan.” lol Cracks me up. Check out some awesome photos taken by Souza. Notice the one of Michael Jackson and Ronald Reagan.

By the way, I recommend that you study Pete Souza’s photographs. Pay attention to light, composition, what he chooses to include in/out of the frame, etc.

So how do you build trust with the people you photograph? Do you have any trouble blending in? I’d love to hear any tips you have on building trust and becoming invisible.