Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Is that the whole story?

I am a receptionist and I work with the public. I know it seems to the average observer the life of an artist is filled with paint, compulsive sketching and coffee. Sadly that's not the case. Although I am at a coffee shop right now.... Truth is we work to pay the rent since art, while it feeds the soul, doesn't feed the belly.

I am a photographer. We train our eye to analyze any given situation and lay hold of the strongest details in a snap decision. It is a constant exercise in seeing the entire scene and cherry picking the choice details. Stories are written before the shutter snaps.

A few weeks ago, in my day job, I encountered a woman frantically looking for her teen son. I knew he had come in earlier but she became frantic when she did not see his name on a particular sheet. After all he hadn't done what he was supposed to do which was to sign in! "this lady needs to calm down" *snap*. His teacher approached the mom who laughed nervously as she chattered on about the list her son hasn't signed. "She really needs to chill out!" *snap* Quietly the teacher asked the boy's name. She reminded him that her son wasn't on the sheet as she pointed and looked quickly at the exit then to the door from which her son would exit. The teacher calmly said her son was on his list. Now she took a few steps toward the room her son would exit soon. She was now nervously giggling at everything the teacher said. "no this lady is nuts!" *snap* Her son finally exited and saying "hi mom" he walked with her out of the building.

For the next day or two I was certain this mom had lost it. Then I learned the rest of the story.

This seemingly peculiar mom entered and grabbing the list of names remarked his name was missing. "here we go again" *snap* Then it happened, the unseen figure came into focus. As she left she said, "I never know if his dad has dropped him off. He knows it's my weekend!" All of those *snaps* were blurred images that didn't capture the whole story. They only stole the confused aftermath.

What are you photographing?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What Dreams of Alpo May Come

I will be exhibiting a series of dog photographs at the Zoom Room here in Longmont in March. It will be a series of 4 with the theme of sleeping dogs. Here is one of the pieces ready for the show. Stop by in March to see the rest!
Come on Boy!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Growing up, every summer we would travel to a far away land, known as Colorado, to visit my grandparents on their 60 acre farm. It was an incredible place. The fields seemed endless and the various sheds and buildings stood as reminders of farming days that had since ceased. It wasn't a lifeless place, far from it, since all the trappings of what a farm is remained. Even though they were silent as if waiting for the farming to resume. As long as we were careful and didn't play with anything dangerous, we were free to experience all that the retired farm could offer. Except there was one small shed we weren't allowed to enter. It was the cellar shed in which all of grandma's canning supplies were kept.

      For years she meticulously stored in glistening jars most of the food her family would need for the winter. She had inherited some Ball and bought a few Masons. Each jar had important work to do. None of them could be spared for idle play or worse to careless accidents. No, each one meant a provision for life.That was nothing with which to be careless. This was insight from generations of mothers.
     Two years ago my grandparents decided to move to Wyoming to live with my mother. It took several months to clean and pack up the farm. My grandparents had lived there since they were in their teens, so there was much to do. Then the day came for us to make a trip down to thier place and claim anything we wanted before it was packed up, given away or hauled off. Many times over that extended weekend we all found ourselves suspended in time through thought as we ran our fingers over a this or a that. It was a long process. But the last thing we needed to do was speed it up. Then after several years, it was time to move out the Masons and the Balls. They were going to my sister since she was the family's canner. It should have been a matter of placeing same sized jars in boxes and taking them to the car. But it wasn't. Things were changing. The past was being displaced and made to float around like a feather caught in a gust. It is now up to my sister to do something with that past. Perhaps they will stay in a cupboard for many years, undisturbed, until her daughter can sweep up the years and breath newness into the jars by using them. Then again, maybe they will all come crashing down in one massive calamity as my sister is canning this year's peaches. It is hard to say. Then again, it is easy to forget that glass jars cannot hold the stuff of life. And yet . . .

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Things You Should See

I had the opportunity to cross off one line on my bucket list last week. Through the month of May the Longmont Museum has an exhibit of works by Dorthea Lange and Maynard Dixon. In this collection is the famous photograph titled Migrant Mother. This is the piece that served as one of the most influential for the FSA. You can find more info and downloadable photographs of Florence Owens Thompson at  http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/128_migm.html
Seeing this photograph, and honestly anything by Lange, should be on any photographer's bucket list.


I have always thought that this mother of seven was much older than myself and that fact somehow allowed me the luxury of distancing myself from her. After all, this happened in a land far away and in a time long LONG ago, right? She is a model, without a name and completely void. What happens to her doesn't really matter since in a moment you will walk away from the image and one way or another things will resolve in ways we all assume are beneficial.
But then I read her age as it was printed below the photograph. It turns out I am only a scant year younger than she was at the time the photograph was taken. My life is very different from hers, that is true, and yet, as I looked closely at her face and traced my eyes along the slight crease in the photograph the inescapable truth hit me. This is real. Florence is not a model. She was a person that bore the consequences of her actions, both good and bad. Her name was Florence Owens Thompson. A camera pointed in her direction has about as much meaning to her as the year's Paris fashions. There's no agenda here for Florence. She is deep in thought about a tomorrow she can't resolve. We are not of the same age and yet learning that in the moment in which all of that was taking place for her and all of this was taking place for me, we were the same age. I couldn't help but think that she is not an "other" and neither is her suffering. Given a certain set of circumstances, that are easier to assemble than we want to admit, this is a portrait of me. It makes so many aggravations about my life more easily seen for what they are, petty.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Perspective is Key

Sometimes a simple carefree accident from one can feel like a highly polished obtrusion for another.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh! To Be Free!

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . KICK!

Little boys and elephants have much in common. They love spending time with 'their people'. And they have an overwhelming urge to roam as far and as fast as their feet will take them. But despite their best efforts, they often crash chaotically wherever they go.
I suppose the world would be a much more orderly place if they were easy to contain.
But then I wonder, why would you want to?

Double points for anyone who can tell me in which book "1...2...3...KICK!" appears.