#24 Grit – Extra Course

I remember this day… I should have been at work but I had been fired the day before. I was outside walking in front of my apartment feeling a little bit of freedom from the typical reigns of a work day yet perplexed with what I should do with this new freedom I was experiencing. As I was out in front of my apartment an acquaintance who used to come in to where I worked happen to drive by and stopped to talk with me. He inquired why I wasn’t at work and I got explaining the dramatic event. We hashed out the typical what happened/who-done-it scenario and when all was said and done he said …well, let’s go take pictures for the day.

Man, that was all I needed to hear and I was in the car with camera goods in no time heading off to a journey. He wanted to make a pitch to the local art galleries in Fredericksburg, TX about showing his work first before we got into the day so I got to see how that whole process worked as he did get the interest of one gallery. Then the rest of the day was open highway as we headed northwest into Mason County looking for anything we could find. There was remnants of snowfall from earlier in the week and all sorts of great landscape I hadn’t been to before.

When I first met this guy (I’ll call him Jake) I remember being humored and thinking “what’s he photographing” as I saw him sitting on the ground, focusing on something low between two buildings with a consumer point-and-shoot digital camera. Watching him I thought to myself he must really be new at photography because he looked like I remembered myself as a kid being fascinated by everything I saw and photographing it, only to be disappointed with the end result. You see, he’s an older gentleman who was into digital photography but wasn’t very computer literate and talked about how he was going to have his work shown at galleries and coffee shops. I just thought he was over-ambitious without a prayer in the digital age.

Well I ended up seeing his work in the town coffee shop/bookstore and was more than impressed. There was imagery on the walls of everyday types of things that I see all the time that I couldn’t imagine taking myself yet also thinking… why didn’t I ever take that shot?

We have different shooting styles but he has a really interesting perception of the world and I find it very inspiring. Check his work out at the links below and try to take a little time to see what he’s got there. It’s somewhat varied and I’m sure you’ll find and enjoy something.



It was a good day as I got to know Jake a little better and saw more of what I became accustomed to seeing in how he shoots – low and strange angles, seeing him totally into shooting subject matter unbeknownst to me, most seemed like quirky ideas to shoot but he shoots them none-the-less with a creative “knowing”. Hanging out with Jake was a good thing that day. I had a relaxed sense of freedom that kept my mind off the shock of losing my job. I saw some country I hadn’t been to before and pulled off a few images of my own.

He was funny too. He took advantage of the day to shoot a conceptual image of a doll for a book cover he needed to do and as he was low to the ground shooting it, he joked about how it couldn’t be good if somebody came by and saw us “two guys” shooting close ups of a naked Barbie doll out here in the Texas sticks.

Many things have never been the same since this day for me particularly work-wise but I always remember being inspired by Jake’s commitment to his passion and his positive outlook, an important theme that has stayed with me since.


East Met West Contrast

I’ve heard that there’s an old saying in north Texas that Dallas looks to the east and Fort Worth looks to the west in the Metroplex. The views vary particularly about the “other” depending on who you talk to, usually based on qualms about traffic, crime, schools, property values, and… attitude. Yes, the ego or the claim to the lack of it becomes familiar sport if you ask enough people about these two cities. There is a premise that everything is bigger and better in the “Big D” and it is apparent from the new skyscraper real estate, the exotic cars and fortune 500 companies you see. This new money has spawned arts and cultural centers, sporting and entertainment venues, shopping malls, fine dining and trendy nightlife, familiar of the big city cosmopolitan lifestyle. Fort Worth on the other hand has more of an old west character. It’s a much more laid back feel and somewhat slower paced yet full of local arts and culture where you’d be more akin to see a businessman in a cowboy hat and boots or not think there’s a costume party/event when you see cowboys walking around. The stockyards and livestock industry is part of its heritage and in recent years it has been promoting itself as the “City of Cowboys and Culture.” Many of the communities around Fort Worth are well established and the sense of the open range becomes apparent when you venture west of the city limits.

According to the US Census Bureau the DFW Metroplex encompasses 9,286 square miles, 12 counties,  the cities of Arlington, Irving and the Mid-Cities to name a few with a population of 6.8+ million as of July 2009. It ranks as the fourth largest populated metropolitan area in the US and tenth largest in the Americas. It gained 147,000 residents during the period of July 2008 to July 2009. It has always been a major rail transportation hub and the same is true for the airline industry.

Both cities have plenty to do and the difference sometimes is only what satisfies the ego. New money ambiance or old money traditionalism. Uptown sophistication or old west, cow town/funky town character. Performing arts, live music and sports venues or art museums, botanical gardens and family music festivals. The population has the choice of both plus what all the other cities in the area offer where the majorities reside. East has met West in this progressive Metroplex in Texas

Spring On The Horizon

March 27, 2009 – I was wandering around west of Fort Worth, TX looking for fields of bluebonnets that grew as far as the eye could see, not just the familiar patches growing along the highways. Unfortunately I would not find such a place on this balmy day but there was plenty of cow pasture in all directions where new grass and tree growth was revealing signs of spring.

Under The Perennial

I think one of the challenges that photography presents is that there are times when you feel like nothing is new and fresh, that everything has been photographed many times before. It can feel like it’s just another sunset or sunrise, or building or portrait style, and you just can’t see the purpose of repeating the shot. Sometimes I’m not finding what I’m trying to capture through a lens yet the image feels like it’s somewhere there before me. I got past this when I realized that I never seem to have these attitudes when I’m experiencing these moments without a camera, no matter how many times I see a sunset. The reason is because if I’m taking the time to enjoy myself, it’s more about the whole experience… the feelings, the thoughts, the sense of the moment. Enjoying the moment first, and exploring different perspectives of what may seem like a trivial shot usually translates back as each unique experience, even if it’s been visited many times before.

An Old House Revisited

April 8, 2010 – This old house can be seen off Hwy 281 in Marble Falls, TX.  I stopped to see the cool-colored Bluebonnets that encompassed the foreground and noticed a woman already taking pictures of this perspective.  It did seem to be the best angle without intruding on the private property.  Funny thing is that since I’ve taken this shot, I’ve seen many pictures, slightly different of this same scene.