When I read a description that included the words old iron gates, columns and foundation remains, I had to visit Wormsloe Plantation near Savannah, Georgia. Arched stonework , hand-forged gates, and a live oak-lined drive didn’t disappoint. Standing over the foundation of the house, I barely heard the interpreter as I shot in lawn-sprinkler mode: turn, shoot pause, turn, shoot, pause….I had the rhythm but not the engagement. So I wandered off down a path toward the river. No tourists, no interrupted thoughts as I stood admiring the river. It had provided for those who had lived on the land for generations and vowed silently to continue.As I took notice of my surroundings I realized the still life in front of me , calm in the afternoon light , would recall the afternoon in a way that none of my automatic shooting could. I accepted the gift and made one shot.
Lately, as I have been reading about contemplative photography, which talks about receiving rather than making photographs, I have the example of that December afternoon to remind me.
An old general store, host to many town gatherings wears a do not trespass sign as it sits still dressed in its work clothes. From the outside it looks as it has for many years. A glimpse through the keyhole (and a window) helps me imagine . I can hear the conversation around me, smell the coffee and listen to the sounds of the everyday. But its time has passed and I can only dream.
The reality of a pirate’s life doesn’t interfere with our more romanticized view.We see a chance to sail the seas in search of treasure and adventure. Standing in ninety degree heat in Boston Harbor, waiting to cruise and visit the tall ships , I was uncomfortable and out of suitable subjects to shoot. Along sailed this ship and I could imagine standing on the deck, a parrot named Rousseau on my shoulder and a brass spyglass in hand. Emeralds and gold adorned my neck and command of a crew of sailors to do my bidding. Not all adventures must be that bold ,but the ship reminded me that the opportunity for adventures appear unexpectedly and I must be ready to embrace them.
I took an art class. No big deal. Unless, like me, you can’t draw and find yourself in a class with a renowned artist as teacher and gallery worthy artists as classmates. In other words, outclassed and outperformed. But I don’t surrender easily and worked hard at sketching out in the midday sun and trying to work through problems. On the fourth day, an exhibit of student work was planned. I visited every other class to admire the work. When I returned, people had offered positive responses to my efforts.Not having time to think about it, I had scheduled a tour of the dunes for sunset.I hurried to the office and claimed a seat in the jeep. As soon as we entered the dunes, I could feel all those comparisons and concerns drift away on the wind. The dunes moved and changed in the wind, always to appear more beautiful and mysterious. More layers to a personality.The sunset was the reminder that the day’s trials ended and the time to give thanks and savor the light had arrived.I wanted to stand on the beach in that tiny pool of light until I absorbed the lesson.
If I ever run away, it won’t be hard to find me. Just look in this little shack looking out over the dunes where the murmuring of the waves and screeching of gulls are all the conversation I need.It isn’t a new idea. Many writers and artists have taken refuge in these shacks over the years.Eugene O’Neill and Norman Mailer both worked on the dunes. They were on to something.
Beauty is in the details. In southern France, I couldn’t resist shots of old gates and shutters. Their age and color are responsible for tempting my camera. While playing, I layered other photos over them to create this result. Enjoy Provence!
Driving along a main street in Paducah, Kentucky, I spied this garage. Surrounded by eighteen wheelers and because it was after five, I couldn’t resist exploring. The alphabet doors drew my attention. Although I didn’t find twenty-six, these intrigued my camera.
I just returned from Cape Cod where the light has delighted artists for generations, the cool breezes made wandering possible and inspiration hovered everywhere . Back in Memphis, it’s raining. After ten or more days of 100 +temperatures and blazing sun, here the rain is more than welcome. It’s a perfect day to think and relax. This photo, taken during winter vacation, when a storm interrupted a day of infrared shooting, shares the softness and beauty of a rainy day. Combined with this quote from Gloria Jones, ” If you’re only happy when the sun is out, you’re missing half your life, ” reminds me that we need to appreciate each day for its gifts.
Your mother’s smile, father’s ability to carry a tune, an unknown ancestor’s streak of stubbornness. We are all parts of those who came before us. Our role is to add new dimension , creativity and interest to the story in our special way.
Quiet places for reflection become more difficult to find. This riverbank was bathed in early morning light that silhouetted the trees. A cold morning,(even here in Memphis), mist rose from the water.Several stray geese and me. Perfect! To make the moment portable I used my camera . I could carry that quiet morning and breathe.
The background was just that, the back of a canvas that paint had seeped through to create a new pattern. Scanning the back and overlaying it with morning gave the photo texture and dimension. The process is simple and now I could touch that morning.