Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On Parade

My friends from the Seattle-area Tibetan community recently marched in Seattle’s huge,  annual celebration-of-summer, the Seafair Torchlight Parade.  It was a warm evening and the downtown city streets were lined with Seattleites in shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops. The Tibetans, meanwhile, were dresed-to-the-nines in costuming they might wear for festive events in their homeland, a high, cold plateau surrounded by snowy mountains.

The Tibetans were wearing long sleeves that night and must have been roasting in their robe-like chubas. Some were wearing hats with fur trim.  Nevertheless, they enthusiastically pounded on drums, blew ceremonial horns,  and danced their way along the parade route, proud to share their culture with Seattle.

And though their volunteer photographer -- yours truly -- did not dance his way through downtown Seattle, I did walk, backwards, the entire 2-mile-long route in order to document the procession moving forward.

So that I’d fit in with the costuming of their group, my Tibetan friends gave me a Tibetan shirt to wear, but fortunately they didn’t ask that I wear a fur hat.

Monday, August 19, 2013

At Home, Here and There

I’ve lived and made photographs in two very different parts of America in my years on this planet,  and each place, while appearing visually dissimilar from the other,  felt comfortable and right at the time. Neither place better nor worse, mind you,  just right.

I grew up in Ohio and that was “home” through my mid-20’s,  when my wife, young son and I moved West, settling in the Pacific Northwest where we’ve lived now for 35 years. It could be that I’m just an adaptable fellow but I feel like I have two homes, two parts of the country a couple of thousand miles apart where I have friends, family, a photographic history, and roots.

Friday I headed for the Cascade Mountains for a hike with a friend.  I began  my day by watching the sun rise over Puget Sound, and, at the end of the day, my companion and I looked on, slackjawed,  as the setting sun painted the clouds a fiery reddish-orange. My friend and I both agreed that we feel fortunate to live where we do.

But, come November, I’ll travel to my mother’s home in Ohio for a stay in the town and house where I grew up.  I’ll do late Fall chores for Mom and I’ll enjoy my time there too.

In Ohio I’ll rake leaves into piles and those piles will be the colors of the sunrise and sunset skies I saw on my hiking trip Friday.

Monday, August 12, 2013

On the Front Porch

Ansel Adams once lamented that some of his early work had great depth of field (meaning it was in sharp focus from foreground to background) but limited depth of feeling. I sometimes think about Ansel’s lamentation as I look at my own pictures, asking myself: Does it just look nice, or does it say something? Is my heart in it?

It’s a critical question, one that needs to be asked...but one also fraught with peril, because it  sets up these possible scenarios:

A: Artist makes work, puts his/her heart and soul into it.
B: Viewer comes along and reacts favorably to the art.
C: Artist feels fulfilled...
D: Viewer doesn’t think much of the work and is unmoved.
E: Artist feels like a failure.

I once worked as a photographer at a newspaper where a wise-ass reporter said to me: “Photographers...you just can’t love ‘em enough,”   a sardonic but I think right-on observation about artists, and frail egos.


I guess I’ve learned to survive in the conflicted world of art and commerce because last week I shot a lot of nice images that clients paid me to do, but I also shot pictures, just for myself,  that I like. It’s the personal pictures I’m posting here today.

The wisteria on our front porch has been amazing this year, blooming not just once, but twice. The blooms positively glow in the early light of morning; and in the evening, the soft shadows the leaves cast on our front door are wonderful.

The front porch is our outdoor living room this time of year.
Humans (and dogs) spend evenings on the porch, and are quietly contented.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Going Native

I wonder whether the pictures I’m posting today might lead a viewer to suppose that I’ve recently been off someplace colorful and exotic...New Guinea or New Zealand, perhaps?... or maybe Fiji? That I’ve been in a climate where my clothing needs were few:  A beach towel tied around my waist and flip-flops on my feet?

Is it possible that these pictures give you the idea that I’ve traveled to a land where the inhabitants might be referred to as “natives”?

‘Fraid, not, dear reader.  These pieces of photographic eye candy were found just miles from my home in the Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest.  I made the “Bird Woman” portrait posted above while doing a volunteer shoot at a sweet summer camp for kids with health challenges; and I shot the images below at a wedding reception.

I can’t remember for certain, but, though the weather has been nice here lately,  I’m pretty sure I made the photographs without even having to wear sunscreen (nice because there’s always the possibility that goopy sunscreen might accidentally get smeared on my expensive, nano-coated camera lenses, leading to imagery that is far too soft-focus and dreamy for my photographic style.)

Nope, I’m afraid there are no recent South Seas island experiences to report from my world, though I should hasten to add that the eye candy was a fun find... and also that I’ve resolved that next week I’m going to wear flip flops as often as possible.