Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cowboy Father-in-law

My future father-in-law is a cowboy. This past weekend I spent my mornings cleaning stalls and the rest of the day working around the farm. I don't mind that life; in fact, most of my later experiences in life cause me to miss the solitude and reflection of manual labor. There is a certain perspective that is gained from this work.

Only after a short stint of manual labor, I find both a balance and a fresh productivity with both my photography and my job as an engineer. This past weekend I also got to take some interesting photos at a barn warming event. Event coverage is not something that excites me as a photographer, but I do love photography in a way that allows me to enjoy certain aspects of event photography.

One is that it is great for tuning your eye and camera work in conditions that may not be ideal to capture moments with a limited set of equipment. Although, I admit I do find myself bored with standard event coverage photos, there is a great opportunity to have thoughtful composition and intentional communication with event coverage. People may refer to this as a more photojournalistic approach to event coverage.

Second is that this photojournalistic approach really lends itself to telling stories. What I find when I take many photos at an event is that there is a large story and many smaller stories that can be told through the photos gained, and the presentation of photos have a major influence on the audience's interpretation of the story.

If you are familiar with horse whispering you would know the magical experience of witnessing a horse being worked from the Natural Horsemanship perspective. Horses are majestic animals with several basic behavioral traits and natural instincts that allow them to be harnessed and trained to perform with passion and relationship that is unparalleled even by man's best friend. When done right the relationship between man and horse is less of a struggle and more of a partnership.

With that said, I do value presentation of work. The arrangement of photos in a particular layout, and the intentional presentation of work are just a couple of ways to make a difference in how people perceive photography. This type of post work when putting together blogs or any media takes time. I was inspired by a notion of story-telling and having many small stories within a larger story when going over these photos. So after my initial photo pick, I went back to re-pick more photos just for the purpose of presentation. While this exercise takes more work than I like to spend on my blog, It was helpful in allowing me to create story-lines and see the photo coverage as a progressive story-line.

With any event lasting more than a couple hours with a fixed number of a people, following the people and their individual stories tend to take priority over the chronological order of things, I have arranged the photos in a story-oriented manner, and I hope the smaller stories are evident and the larger story of the introduction of Cornerstone Horse Farm is clearly depicted in the capturing of genuine moments from the barn warming event.

The third aspect of event coverage that I really enjoy is the opportunity to capture candid moments that are not posed, but genuine. Moments where the camera disappears from its influence over the subjects are wonderful in my eyes.

The purpose of this barn warming event was to introduce the local and extended communities of Nashville to the services and facilities of Cornerstone Horse Farm run by Sal Landa, Horse Tamer and Lynette Villa de Rey, Event Coordinator.

This was a fairly informal event coverage for me, and I learned of the services that will be provided at Cornerstone Horse Farm during the event, but even if the exact services were not directly provided, the scene and atmosphere provided a great idea and I feel the pictures also describe the story.

Most often in my blogs, I have been presenting smaller samples of my work showing only a few photos of a particular scene. I love the way one photo can depict a dramatic story without a succession of photos or a particular arrangement to support it. But often times there are many details withheld when sharing in this way whether intentional or by accident, I am typically more interested in showing great photos than telling more complete stories. In my opinion, I favor quality over quantity.

Originally, I only wanted to post around 10 photos from the event and combine two postings into one from the weekend. I decided to take the extra time to give the event coverage a little more attention here and break out some alone time sessions I had with my fiancé for another post.

Stay tuned for pictures just from my creative time with my fiancé in which I took advantage of some opportune lighting during the event and some time at a vineyard where I was completely inspired and focused on the sun-light painting the scene so beautifully. Enjoy and thank you for your patience with all of these photos in this post!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A New Chapter

Besides getting engaged to the love of my life, I got to share some of my high school friends with my fiance, Lianne. This past weekend was my ten year high school reunion. Although I didn't get to see as many friends as I was hoping to see, there were so many good memories with the ones I did get to see that she caught a glimpse of the love and support that I was blessed to be surrounded by throughout my childhood. She has met some close friends throughout the years of dating but it was extra special to share with her a little part of my high school experience. While there were several friends she met this weekend I have known since elementary school if not kindergarten, she was able to get a less biased picture of who I am from the many friends that only knew me from high school. While I have grown dramatically in my own eyes since high school, I am not so prideful or mature to say I am a different person than I was in high school especially since I am not ashamed of anything from my high school experience.

It was funny, because prior to college, I had never used a camera, I drew and sketched, but it was not until my freshmen year of college that I fell in love with photography. Before then I almost avoided the camera, and it was evident in all the photos from my high school experience. This weekend I only saw one of me, but it did not take away from my experience or the friends and memories I made while I was there. Those memories are strong as was evident from this weekend and the stories we shared. It was great to see everyone I saw this weekend! Thanks for being the same great people I remember from high school!

How did I know when to propose? So after giving her an experience of who I was in high school, and having her love me all the same left no stone un-turned in our relationship. I have put her through a ringer of experiences to show her who I was before I met her, and she has remained intently in love with me and I in her. While none of it was an intentional test of her love, she past every experience with a solid commitment of love and support. How could I not ask her immediately after this final stone unturned. I have had the ring since August, and have planned many opportunities through the end of the year to ask her, it was exceptionally difficult to wait when I got the ring. Keep in mind, I knew and was committed to marry her from the beginning almost 6 years ago when I met her. I have maintained this commitment from the beginning and will till the day I die.

What were her expectations? I did not hide that I had the ring nor about each of the events we had planned in the rest of the year. I told her I would ask her in the next three months before the end of the year. I asked her not to ask or talk about our engagement anymore, so it was at least three weeks until we had spoken about it. I wanted to have a more organic experience as far as my decision was concerned about when it was going to happen. I had several opportunities planned and through each opportunity I would decide whether the time was right. I am a prayful man and consider my prayers with God a major influence in what happens on a day to day basis. I am open and obedient even through my own indiscretions and iniquities.

How did I propose? I took her up to Jupiter to scout an epic scene in Florida for engagements and bridal photo shoots. I was more nervous, and through prayer I discovered, that God left me up to my own courage to finalize the deal. He laid it on my heart to ask her now, but when I asked Him for courage, I found His answer to be more of tough love than I was expecting. I drove off my anxieties and finally made it to Blowing Rocks, Jupiter Island, FL. When we got there I discovered that there was a beach cleaning in progress and more people than I was expecting to be there. We walked a short distance, and found an epic scene with a large rock hole in the shore-line. I asked her to pose alone for a few shots. I brought my remote control for the opportunity to take pictures together in this great landscape. Of course my remote control ran out of battery at this moment. I was forced to setup my 10 second timer. I was running back and forth taking pictures with her, and for the final pose I was planning to ask her and catch it on camera. As you can see, she moved quite a bit during the final shot, but the picture communicates the story well enough.

I am grateful to experience this story and love with you all, and I hope you can enjoy our experience through this blog and images.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Weather Staging

When you plan a five hour road trip to take pictures and the weather forecast is for non-stop rain all weekend, the only saving hope was that I was planning to take my underwater housing with me. The plan was to get on to the Paynes Prairie and get some opportunities to photograph some wild buffalo and horses. Another idea was to get into some heavily gator populated lakes and get some long exposure night shots with the eyes of gators complementing the starry skies. Finally, we had planned to kayak down the Ichetucknee river with my underwater housing. Although one could argue and completely throw the plans out the window when the weather was taken into consideration, we decided to stick with the plan and go out regardless of weather. What we got was some pretty even lighting and some chance opportunities that seemed to be set up perfectly by the poor weather conditions. If you were in Florida this past weekend you know how rainy and miserable it was. We didn't see the sun this past weekend.

As I was talking to some co-workers prior to my road-trip we were discussing the idea of going up and coming back with nothing. I shared that I have yet to have an experience where I have come home empty handed from a photography expedition, but willing to accept the defeat of weather. Extreme weather conditions often setup great photo opportunities for both the epic landscapes and the fact that few people are willing to put themselves out in a situation of extreme weather. While I would hardly call what we experienced this weekend extreme weather, it did make for some great photo opportunities.

By chance we stumbled upon a lone Buffalo. Funny story, this guy in the picture below the buffalo was right there where the buffalo came out, and we saw him try to walk away from this buffalo unnoticed. Apparantly the buffalo was more concerned with us than it was with him, and began charging towards this guy who then began to run as fast as he could towards a raised look out on the prairie. Watching this whole scene unfold before our eyes was quite entertaining, especially since we had been walking with our heads down avoiding large piles of crap unaware of what we might encounter on our path.

The starry night plan was a complete bust because of heavy cloud cover, but the rainy day set up a completely isolated experience on the Ichetucknee river. Not another person in sight as we spent four hours kayaking a two hour river course.I absolutely loved this experience, being in the quiet solitude of nature is an experience I cherish. I rarely take the opportunities to get out in it, so each experience is so very special. This weekend was full of those opportunities to dwell in the silence and serenity of our surroundings. Its allure is addictive; it was so invigorating and refreshing.

Thanks for taking the time to look through my photos! I am excited to be sharing photos again, especially with the coming winter season and spectacular weather to look forward to be shooting in. The feeling I have about this winter is great, I am already seeing a significant increase in bird activity while it is still frequenting the 80 degree temperature range. I have some exciting trips planned for this Fall and Winter, and hope to be sharing photos frequently.