Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fall Ramblings

Fall is a beautiful time of the year that as a South Floridian, I have barely gotten to witness. Our winter's are a thing of envy, and our Fall is just a sign of that winter to come. The fall temperatures here are still wonderful, but the coloration of the foliage is definitely lacking. The freedom and accessibility of such beauty is such a blessing to be grateful for as a young adult. I remain mindful of how fortunate I am. Part of my inspiration is how giving is a significant part of contributing to this world. The more I give the more I am given, and this is a truth I have learned and experienced over my young life. I still grow daily in what giving means.

Another learned lesson, is that for myself being in a place of comfort dissuades growth and motivation to grow. As a young adult, I have experienced that I am capable of so much when under pressure whether self-induced or externally applied. I have maintained a steady pace in my growth as a photographer and a person, but as a photographer I do feel a comfort settling in that I am not driven by some imminent expiration date or some self-sustaining necessity. I apply a steady pace to long-term goals, but there is a great comfort creeping into my. I heard an interesting description today in an interview with the husband of congresswoman Giffords. He said that when she gets frustrated it's a good thing because it causes her mind to work and re-grow in those areas that she is most frustrated.

I try not to stress over this point, but I do in moments feel as though I need to be working harder or being challenged more. Being a practical person, there are so many things in my mind that I have planned to do not just as a photographer, but most importantly as a person. There are things that apply pressure to my ability to work as a photographer that don't even buck a balanced life. I have made a balanced life a priority. In a sense the biggest internal battle within myself is the comfort that a balance life provides. My passion of photography is limited in that I am more passionate about growing as a person and being a well-balanced individual than I am with being a great photographer.

I make certain sacrifices to pursue photography but I don't allow it to own my life. At this point in my young career, I don't allow the pressure and the glory of capturing something great to determine my path and force me to give up things I consider more important. I remain mindful of that path I am travelling so that when I come to one end I can look back and know that I was mindful. Before I fell in love with photography I experienced places and people of great beauty even in the absence of the ability to capture it. Even these days there are moments when I am in the presence of a scene that I really want to capture, but I am not always with my camera. Sometimes this frustrates me and sometimes I am able to bask in the scenery. When I am with others especially I try to be mindful that my drive as a photographer should not outweigh my experience of them in whatever moments they would be willing to experience. Photography can push me and my company to experience great things otherwise unappreciated, and for that, I am grateful. I am sure most often those who are with me while experiencing great beauties are not disappointed.

This past trip I took, I had the privilege of being with three younger guys whom I have become great friends with over the years knowing them. I feel as though these guys would be just fine without my friendship, but their influence in my life has been an anchor and a part of my growth as a young man. I do not attribute any responsibility for their growth or who they are becoming as young men, but they have contributed to so much value in my life that I am grateful just to witness them growing as young men.

I am willing and motivated to do what it takes to go places and do things necessary to get great photos, but the dynamics of travelling with a group require a bit more flexibility and openness to take what you get with what you got. If it is my intention to go on a photography excursion and someone asks to come along, that is a different story, but for the most part I am aware that my drive can exceed the willingness of others to participate in a photography driven experience. While they may appreciate the outcome after any hardship, I prefer to prioritize my companions over my own drive. This trip was a good mix of willingness and new discovery for these guys, and I know that they were able to experience a healthy amount of adventure and gained a great appreciation of stepping through unknown paths.

I believe in the value of nurturing younger men to grow into the men that they were meant to be. Throughout my life besides the example that my father led, there were several older men who have had influence in my life. There is a clever balance in leading young boys to become young men. Much patience, great integrity, and persistence with an open hand is required through most of this journey. A stern discipline not only in direction but also within one's own life is a key to the effectiveness of leadership. In its most passive form, just the continued integrity of consistence, and staying the course in one's own life while in the presence of young ones goes much further than given credit. Not all of us are the same and we have a nature to handle and perceive things in different lights, and although we may learn the opposite the first time and learn the truth after we experience on our own the opposite can also be true.

While important is the seriousness of raising young ones, equally important are a balance with a sense of humor and a light heart. These traits will also carry us a long way in most situations. I have yet to master this balance of serious and humor, but have had an evanescent success at either in their right time. My biggest fault has been taking things too seriously and yet I proudly maintain that there is a lack of seriousness in most things that should be taken seriously. I occasionally feel I may have had it mastered more when I was younger I took most things with a great deal of outward brevity and lightness while maintaining a seriousness internally knowing how things should be, and yet as I age, I find the reverse true, that I dictate a serious outward reflection but maintain a very light-hearted and easy inward feeling. It is an interesting internal conflict in that I don't feel any shame or guilt in the decisions that are made for either trend when I show and lean toward reverence or show and lean towards the whimsical.

This occasional reflection keeps me self-balancing between the two and in faith I hold no burden in when I choose to apply either.

In photography there is this balance too, there is a certain amount of daring, adventure, and ambition associated with photography and a certain amount of seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary and being able to take amazing photos of everything. You can go to the most well travelled spots and take magnificently composed photos, and your pictures will be common to everyone who has travelled that spot and seen something similar to what you have seen, or you can seek out the most unimaginable places during times when they have never been seen by human eyes. Whether you capture a spectacular image or not your story and your own experience will be invaluable.

I value both. The ability to take something ordinary or well travelled and make it great whether it's the lighting that makes it perfect or the scene just showing off at that moment you were there. Another aspect of this balance is getting to know a place so well that you really know when and how a place is different from moment to moment and season to season. My admiration becomes something more when the scenery and the moments captured are truly rare, not just rare to the masses but rare even to those who search and seek those rare moments. These images obtained in a manner that few are capable of obtaining are the images that impress me. While these aspirations are grand in my mind I also love the regular look-out spots, the well-beaten paths, and all the things that continue to be new for me that can deliver winning images over and over again.

What do I look for when taking photos? For me, light inspires me, composition second, and finally capturing the scene with enough accuracy to satisfy the image in my mind of a scene or a moment.

While I do feel that all photo opportunities are a real treat some fall upon you and others you have to seek out. This scene with the birds was a fun gift that I saw as I was passing by on my way to meet a friend in DC. By chance there was a rose garden in the same location without any nice light at all. These fully bloomed roses fully in shadow of the Smithsonian Castle while this fountain scene was calling my name and glistening with sunlight. I had to stop. The sunlight was retreating in late afternoon, between buildings just highlighting this fountain where the birds were bathing and playing king of the fountain. In hindsight, there was a composition of this scene that I had taken after the birds left that left me to be disappointed that I didn't capture the whole episode with.

The size of the birds caused me to set my shutter speed that allowed me to capture their extremely fast movement luckily the light was direct, and the angle I shot them was purposefully done to avoid the passersby and the distraction of a construction fence. I fired away as they flew in and out of the scene pausing re-adjusting as the light changed following one here and there, this scene lasted for maybe a little more than a minute and they were gone! I looked up after shooting this great little gem of a moment, and they all flew away as if caught in the act of doing something ashamed. I hope you enjoy this re-display of the same moment that I witnessed!

This post has been fairly lengthy both in photos and in writing. I just felt like rambling. Please take what you can and enjoy it as it is. For there are many more opportunities and postings to come!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Best Buddies Miami Gala 2011: Viva Italia

Being a photographer opens doors to new and exciting experiences. This Best Buddies Miami Gala: Viva Italia was just one of those experiences. While I don't get too excited about famous people or event photography, this was surely an experience that was worth the time and effort it took to be a part of. As I have posted about Best Buddies before in my blog about the Polo Experience, this was a much more formal celebration of the work that Best Buddies does and the support that they receive from some of their largest monetary supporters.

So this was my second Best Buddies Event, my first major Gala. Again as I have written about before, I admit that Event Photography does not inspire me, but at this event there was a certain amount of allure with very expensive and rare auction items, very beautiful people, and ultimately being a part of serving a cause to help those that are less fortunate have greater opportunity and a better experience in life.

There was a certain aspect of this event that felt like a frenzy or a free for all that leaves me very grateful of the peace and solitude of other forms of photography like nature, landscape, and portraiture. While the event lasted well over 6 hours, the shots I am posting are a general overview about the locations, the happenings, some product sponsor shots, some posed portraits, spotlight speakers and presenters, some roaming entertainment, and finally a fashion show. There was a concert performance by LMFAO that I unfortunately had to bow out for because of a prior commitment to travel to see my fiancé early the next morning.

One of my assignments for the night was to cover sponsors of the event and sponser product placement, while my introduction to most of the sponsor representatives was overlooked, the representatives from Piaget that I did get to meet were warm, welcoming, and very appreciative of having a photographer there that was taking photos with them in mind. This was an undercurrent for the event coverage that I didn't mind. People wanted their pictures taken for the most part and wanted to be published in some form of online media which was refreshing.

I have had plenty of experience working in low-light conditions for both events and show-type performances to be completely at ease about the situations presented at this event, almost bothered that the coverage became a grind. I try my best to avoid this type of complacent coverage and see things differently and capture things differently. In that aspect of event coverage I can be challenged, and for that I can grow and seek self-improvement to be more creative in situations that I become complacent in.

The rarities of this event as far as the rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, rare and extravagant auction items, shooting a fashion show for the first time, and admiring the roaming entertainment were all great fun. There was a great energy here that was driving a great cause with compassion and heartfelt support. You got a sense that there were many people here supporting Best Buddies because they have experienced first hand the work that Best Buddies does throughout the world and they know and love buddies or have worked with buddies that have had a major impact on their own lives.

The purely inspirational moments for me at this event were hearing the first hand account of Charles Calhoun and watching as Anthony and Alina Shriver nurtured one of their young daughters Carolina to be so influential in the Best Buddies organization.

Charles spoke about how it was growing up with an intellectual and developmental disability and how it has been for him to succeed and dream in spite of the ignorant forces that oppose him. He spoke of his relationship with his mother and how he was so thankful for her love and support through such cruelty from his peers while growing up. He continued to speak about how Best Buddies has provided him with amazing opportunities for growth, leadership, and continued success through encouragement, support, and belief. Through their practical training and the generous support of donors Charles has become an inspirational leader and productive member of our global community.

Seeing Anthony, his wife Alina, and his daughter Carolina on stage was a genuine image of how this organization has been inspired, grown, and the seeds be sown into the younger generations. The torch of Best Buddies International will be past to strong, willing, and capable hands. As Alina Shriver announced her daughter as the future leader of Best Buddies and then watching Carolina speak in front of 100s of influential people about what she is working to do within Best Buddies was inspirational. Not only in her speech but also in how she carried herself throughout the night could you agree with Alina that her daughter will carry Best Buddies into the future.

I hope these images share the experience I had while covering this event for Best Buddies and that you would be so inclined to expand your mind about the realm of possibilities for all of us in our part to make this world a better place.