butterfly on hat
suspenders and a bow tie
I took a photojournalism class and it totally threw off my game. I had a flow going, a style of shooting that I liked, a simple post processing routine that I could apply effortlessly. All I had to do was concentrate on the subject matter. Frame the shot. Find the light. Shoot for the moment and not have to think about technical settings.
I’m not talking full on auto shooting either. I like to shoot in shutter priority and adjust my ISO ad shutter speed according to the situation. ISO is a term carried over from the days of film photography. It stands for the International Standards Organization, the really smart guys and gals who decide how to standardize sensitivity ratings for camera sensors. Fiddling with the ISO adjusts the camera’s sensitivity to light.
The subject matter that I currently shoot requires a fast shutter speed. I switch between having the camera to my eye and shooting from the hip. I turn the ISO up when I’m in dark areas like alleys or shadowy sides of the street. I adjust the shutter speed to either allow motion blur or completely freeze time. I can stop it up to 1/8000th of a second. I control light and I stop time. I am a God.
Then I get to Beginning Photojournalism and it’s just nothing but constraints. Don’t shoot in shutter priority, don’t use Lightroom, don’t use Silver Efex Pro. Don’t use any of the tools that help make your photos look awesome. Just do an unsharp mask and slightly tweak the levels. That’s all they allow me to do. I need more freedom than that.
I’m doing fine in the class, and I think my final project will be a good one, but for being a guy that loves photography more than anything, this class killed me. I did learn how to caption in AP Style though. I also got some great tips on how to get access behind the scenes. I’m ready to get serious. I have one huge, enormous, gigantic obstacle left to hurdle. Self doubt. Nervousness. Feeling inadequate. That’s my problem. I have the guts to get the shot in the heat of the moment, but I have a real hard time initiating contact. I don’t hide that I’m taking pictures, but I don’t make myself available to talk to anyone. It’s a mental block. I just freeze up.
This entire semester I worked really hard to force myself to talk to people. I talked at length to a homeless man who collects scrap to get by, I got an Anonymous protester to unmask himself to me and reveal his identity. I met a group of activists from the Occupy Denver movement and went to a few of their gatherings. I talked about green beans with a nice elderly lady who feeds the homeless every Friday night. I met a guy with a freshly beaten face who talked to me for at least 30 minutes. A guy with a red beard named Irish and his buddy Juan. The point is I talk to people, but I’m not getting deep enough. I just can’t seem to let go of that last little bit, and that hurts, because that could be the one thing that stops me from ever finding success in this endeavor. The one thing that makes me the guy who isn’t really a photographer. The guy who has to swallow his pride and admit he’s not good enough. Because the competition is fierce, and there are some really good photographers out there pushing the envelope and doing amazing things. I want to do that too. More than anything.
I want to teach my children that it’s okay to stumble and fall while you are chasing your goals. You don’t have to quit because you suck at first, or because it seems too hard. Keep trying. Don’t give up.
That’s just how I feel.
the paperback book
distant relic of the past
real not virtual
I’m going to make a book of these. Just for the hell of it.
This scene is becoming more rare every day. The new world looks down on real books. We are the electronic everything society. Why get the real thing when you can have 1,000 virtual copies in your pocket? Human hands look much more natural grasping an actual book. “People reading real books” is on my list of things to photograph, along with “people with old school personal cassette players” and “old ass cars.” There is no school like the old school, at least in my book. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy and take advantage of the rapidly advancing technology that we live with, I just prefer the stuff I grew up around.
The mother of my child and love of my life has eluded death at least three times. Twice she survived breast cancer. She once fainted in a movie theater lobby from a pulmonary embolism, due to complications with a stent in her arm relating to the cancer.
The disease took her ovaries and her breasts. Cancer made her voluntarily poison herself with chemotherapy.
She even survived a roll over crash on the highway before cancer was even a part of the equation. It decimates everything. The body. The spirit. The bank account.
Despite all that, she still smiles and cares for others more than she does herself. She encourages us and provides the roof over our head and the food on our table. She is kind, loving, responsible and strong. She makes our world go ’round. Together we see these close calls and consider them a sign. The sign says: “Live you’re life and don’t hold back.”
We had a child together after many conversations of what our future as a couple dealing with the repercussions of breast cancer would be like. We had Penny and then Maizy decided to let them take her ovaries to avoid the very real possibility of cancer developing there. Then she decided to let them take her last remaining breast. Total mastectomy. I still think she’s the sexiest woman on the planet. Survivors are hot. She sacrificed her body to have a chance to live a longer life.
Maizy is amazing. For almost dying several times, the life in her bursts out and infects me. She gave me an amazing daughter and encourages me to follow my dreams. I’m glad she’s in my life and I’m grateful to her for fighting to live as hard as she does and choosing to spend that life with a bum like me. I’m The luckiest guy in the world.
What would you do if you almost died? Wouldn’t you want to live your life to the fullest and not regret an existence of apathy? Experience things you never have? Go places you’ve never been? Enjoy YOUR life. Don’t wait for a life threatening disease to give you a wake up call. Do everything. Find what you love to do and follow your dreams. That’s what I’m going to do anyway. You can do whatever you want. It’s your life.
We want to travel. There are many reasons, but a big one for me is getting Penny out there to see the world. Cancer runs in the family. Maizy’s mom had it, and there is a decent chance Penny could have the BRCA gene. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are harmful genes inherited from the mother or father.
A child of a parent with the gene has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the mutation. I hope it isn’t true but I’m ready to deal with it if it is. I want to try to instill that appreciation for life in Penny, not that she doesn’t already have it. The girl is a firecracker.
Extremely emotional just like her dad. Intelligent and strong like her mom. A 50/50 chance that she could have to deal with ovarian or breast cancer? That’s tough to deal with. We are going to teach her to live life. What better way to do that than by example?
The fact is: any of us can die anytime. That’s news to nobody. We already know this. So why do we spend so much of our time doing things we don’t enjoy? I’m not talking about doing the dishes or the laundry. I’m talking about careers and life choices and doing things we wouldn’t normally do. Taking chances, trying new things, searching for fulfillment.
We live in a world where a majority of people think it’s crazy to follow your dreams. We think those people are crazy. Maizy and I have served our time on the hamster wheel and we are jumping off.
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