Denver Street Photography |The Young Marines

confidence of youth
oblivious to wisdom
right behind your back

Young Marine Creed

1. Obey my parents and all others in charge of me whether young or old.
2. Keep myself neat at all times without other people telling me to.
3. Keep myself clean in mind by attending the church of my faith.
4. Keep my mind alert to learn in school, at home, or at play.
5. Remember having self-discipline will enable me to control my body and mind in case of an emergency.

I served in the Marine Corps between 1993 and 1997. My father was a Marine, and his father before him. I am proud of my service, yet I don’t talk about it as readily as I used to. When I was young, I just thought it was the right thing to do. To serve my country, to take an oath of service.

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

I received the Combat Action Ribbon for service in Operation United Shield. I did not discharge my weapon or engage in any hand to hand combat. I didn’t even learn that I had received the Combat Action Ribbon until years after I had been honorably discharged from service.

I am conflicted by this. I never mention it in person to anyone, because I don’t feel I deserved it. Yes, there were bullets that occasionally whizzed over my head on their way to some unknown destination, and there was a firefight on our way back to the ship, but I was not running for my life or anything. I was just in the right place at the right time.

I am conflicted by my feelings about life in general and how they relate to my past. I am non-religious, and I struggle to understand how so many people take their religion seriously enough to kill for it. I don’t pretend to have any idea if God is real, or how humankind came to be. Maybe God is real, maybe he (or she, or it) isn’t. So when I look at that oath, and think of how I swore to GOD that I would protect my country against all enemies, it just seems strange to me. What am I swearing to? To fight whoever they tell me is bad for the United States and its interests?

It seems as if I was bred for war, along with every other young man or woman from a family with a military background. It becomes a sort of right of passage, something I needed to do to prove to my dad and his brothers that I could be a Marine too. I didn’t hesitate, I didn’t think about dying, I just signed the papers and turned my life over to the Government.

The friendships and experiences I had in the Marines, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. That being said, I would not encourage my sons to join right now. I love them too much. I don’t even know who is good and who is bad anymore, it doesn’t seem so cut and dry. I thought about my daughter, and what I would say to her if she wanted to join in her future. Then I thought about the constant stories in the news of women in the military being raped, and I instantly knew that I would discourage her from taking that path.

I don’t want to fight anymore. I don’t want to feel angry all the time. I want to think about peace and promote it. I want to teach my children to be caring and compassionate towards other, to help their fellow man in any way they can.

I look at this picture, and I see those Young Marines, and how proud they are, and I read their creed, and I think to myself, these are all good traits to encourage in our youth. I look at this group here, and I wonder if any of them are destined for that wheelchair behind them or worse. For what? Fossil fuels? Water rights? Democracy? I want to fight for LOVE. I want to believe that fundamental changes in the way we live our lives is a real possibility. I want the human race to learn to co-operate the same way they are teaching my 3 year old. Everyone needs to share and take turns. We are not individuals, we are humans, all of us connected by that one common thread.

This is in no way meant to disrespect the Young Marines organization, the Marine Corps or our Government. The Young Marines goal is to keep kids off drugs and out of trouble. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. These are just the questions I have but am scared to talk about to people in real life. So I put them on this blog to see if anyone else feels the same way I do. I am looking for that human connection, so I can feel like I belong. Maybe this is why change is so hard. I am struggling in the decision to post this entry, because I am worried about who I may offend, and what friends I might lose in the process. All of my fellow Marines that I served with have access to this blog. I feel like I am dishonoring myself and the Marine Corps by having these thoughts. That is how deep it is ingrained. That is why I am a skeptic, because I have experienced what it is to be a Marine first hand, and it isn’t easy or glamorous. It isn’t like the commercials you see when youre watching football. It is blood, sweat, and tears. Mental anguish.

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Denver Street Photography |The Young Marines

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Doors | East Colfax

the things we don’t see
i like the alley better
world within a world

Sometimes I don’t like my Haiku, but I don’t have all night. School starts tomorrow for my daughter and I both. Things are about to get a little more hectic around here. I had to take 5 courses this semester so I can finish my Associates and transfer to another school to chase my Bachelor’s.

Halfway there. It hasn’t been easy. I had to take remedial math courses which slowed down my progress enough to force me to have to stay an extra semester over the 2 year limit. I’m proud to say that I have finally successfully passed all my math requirements. 4 classes later. I basically had to re-learn math from middle-school level on up Anyway. I hated it, and it was hard, but it’s over now. Moving on.

The thing I do to unwind and get away from it all is to grab the camera and roam the streets. I find little treasures like this all the time. I’d like to say that I am a huge fan of the artists who are displaying interesting and thought provoking images for people like me to enjoy. If any of you artists out there see your work on this blog, send me an email and I’ll send you a print. That might be a shot in the dark, but you never know who might be reading your blog.

Tomorrow I begin my last semester at Red Rocks Community College, my daughter will go to her first day of preschool in which Maizy (Penny’s mom) and I get to attend. A proper getting to know you session. Anyone who has ever gone to college and stuck with it knows that once those first classes get going the floodgates are open and you are on a deadline. It makes me anxious just writing about it. My advice for the youth of today would be to go to college and get it out of the way BEFORE you have children and get married. Trust me on this.

I’m taking a photojournalism course, so if any of you fellow photographers out there have any cool ideas that I haven’t thought of yet for a portfolio, feel free to drop me a line or comment on this post. (Yeah right, like any photographer is just going to GIVE me a great idea. Don’t you realize how many of us are out there? Think of your own ideas JERK!)

This isn’t a style I would normally post in, but I want to just write for some reason. Normally, I would try to keep it as short and concise as possible, because after the first few seconds they are gone anyway.

Yesterday I took a photo walk through Downtown, and it just seemed as if everyone was obliterated on alcohol. It was a prime opportunity to take some pictures of people who were clearly at their worst. I had the thought that the bartender’s must be over-serving these people or something. Hundreds of people were stumbling around the streets and behaving the way drunk people do: loud, obnoxious, opinionated, and overly promiscuous. It was just an unusually large amount of people bombed out of their minds. The whole thing just didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to get closer to these people. I wanted to run the other way screaming. So as street photography goes, the day was a bust for me. I just wasn’t feeling it.

I apologize in advance for this post. I hope you at least enjoyed the image.

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Doors | East Colfax

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222 South Broadway | Denver, Colorado

man with a slow hand
a guitar virtuoso
rock guitar legends

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222 South Broadway | Denver, Colorado

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

“We seem to be made to suffer. It’s our lot in life.” -C3P0

Stencil art in the graffiti culture is particularly interesting to me. I love its ability to convey the artists message to a wide audience. The Masterpiece is in the eye of the beholder. The vibrant colors, and rebellious attitude of Street Art is my style of Masterpiece. This art form is virtually unrewarding in any monetary fashion to most of the artists, and to me is one of the most raw forms of artistic expression in contemporary society.

Money is not the sole reason for the creation of these masterpieces. I admire that. The subculture of Graffiti that is stencil art has grown in popularity over the years. The amazing capabilities of modern technology are linking the artists via social communities on the internet. These temporary works live on through images broadcast through social media sites like Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, and the blogosphere. A skillfully created stencil is always going to catch my eye. Although the practice is considered illegal, I believe these masterpieces have a place in the urban landscape.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

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The Strong Do Eat

I love it when I get compliments on my photography from complete strangers. Truthfully, I am never completely satisfied with the level of my work. I have a lot of social interaction issues to get over if I want to take my photography to the next level. The only way I know how to do anything is by jumping right in. I quit drinking alcohol like that about three years ago.

I used to be a six pack a night kind of guy. Being hungover was my natural state. One day something inside of me just clicked, I came to the realization that I didn’t want to feel the pain anymore. I am looking for that a-ha! moment in my photography. I think I may be hindering myself with notions that people just don’t generally like me.

When I hear laughter I automatically assume they are laughing at me. I always get the sense people are sneering at me. I wonder if that has anything to do with years of mental abuse from the kids I went to public school with. Kids are painfully cruel to each other.

“The weak are meat the strong do eat.”― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

That pretty much sums up elementary school through 8th grade. In the eighth grade I finally couldn’t take it any more and beat the hell out of one of my regular tormentors in a bloody, snotty, crying fit of rage. No kid should have to go through that. Ever. Which brings me back to photography.

I want to tackle my fear and beat it into submission until it never comes near me again. I love taking pictures, I’m obsessed with it really. I’m looking for stories to tell. I’m looking for advice. I have ideas. I want to create a series of images of people with strabismus like myself.

I really want to try some nighttime street photography with a flash, but I haven’t purchased an off camera flash yet, and I’m actually a little worried I might get into a fight.

If I can’t get over this social paralysis my photography will never progress. I want to smash this obstacle and create something worthwhile.

I need a story. A reason I can give people who ask me why I’m taking their picture. Something to put them at ease and let them know I am not a threat.

Who knows? Maybe I am overthinking this, but it felt great to get it off my chest. I know what I need to do. I need to be bold and act like I know what I am doing. I need to be the strong instead of the weak.

We are all important, even those of us with low self esteem and mental roadblocks. Being human is complicated.

Life

The Strong Do Eat

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Bookstore Adventure
Imagination Challenge
Disconnect the Tech

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Colfax Avenue | Denver, Colorado

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Denver Pridefest 2013

More misadventures in film photography. I snapped this one off during Denver’s annual Pride Fest. This roll of film was left in the pocket of my pants during a wash and dry cycle. So if you were wondering, this is what happens when you wash your film on accident.

I know that my support of equal rights in this matter does not make me popular amongst my more conservative group of friends, but I hope that you could respect my opinion the same way that I respect yours. I believe that all human beings should be considered equal. In my mind there is only one race, the human race, and I don’t believe we should judge anyone for their sexual preference, the color of their skin, or the religion they choose.

I’ll never understand why some people cannot just live and let live.

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Denver Pridefest 2013

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