A day remembered: September 11, 2001
For many of us adults we can remember the day for many historic events; what we were doing, where we were and how we felt at the time. Because I am in my 50’s I remember quite a few event’s from past history such as Kennedy’s assassination, His brother Bobby and Martin Luther King. Even though I was a young child I can remember each of those days as if they just happened. Our most recent event in history was on September 11, 2001 where 343 firefighters, 72 policemen, 227 airplane passengers, and approximately 3,023 died in the attacks, not to mention all the first responders who have perished since then due to various diseases and cancers.
I know exactly where I was and what I was doing, I was teaching music and reading in a small school in Everglades City, Florida I was in totally disbelief and immediately called my husband and was crying, because I had no idea what the future for my two boys would be. Would they have to go off to war? Would they live in a world where we would always have to watch out backs? My oldest was a senior and I simply could not imagine my boy having to go off to a country where they hate us Americans. I would have been proud of my young men if they had decided to go into the military, but it was not my first choice for them.
I can’t believe it’s been thirteen years since that horrific day. So many more have given their life for our freedoms here in the United States by being on the battlefield in a war.
It was a sad and scary time for all of us. l remember the patriotic outpouring immediately after with everyone flying American flags on their cars and just a sense of total belonging to the best nation in the world. Thinking about that day and being out and seeing our first responders provide a wonderful tribute to that day, has made me realize once again how wonderful our life is here in the US. Life is short and we never know what may be around the corner for any of us so cherish each day, spend it with people you love, which I did this weekend. I spent Saturday with someone who’s been in my life for a number of years however, due to life events we’ve not been able to see each other in about seven or so years, but those few hours we spent talking will remain with me for a very long time. It’s rare someone enters your life that can make such an impact, but I am extremely fortunate to have a small handful of these wonderful people. 9/11 will forever be burned into out minds and hearts, and during this time of remembrance keep those you love close and tell them often.
Walking along the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Boardwalk I realize this is where my element is. I shoot concerts and portraits and I’m quite busy at it, but this is where I readjust, realign my thinking, learn how to shoot better and get creative. I arrived early in hopes not to come in contact with too many other humans. I enjoy interaction, but this morning I need quiet. I am going to be extremely busy for the next couple of months and I will be running non stop with events, concerts, band shoots, portraits and weddings. I needed to simply walk and to be quiet. The silence is golden, there is no one else except for me and an occasional woodpecker singing with many other birds and insects. I watch the leaves drift from the trees; fall soon will be here. It’s amazing to just be quiet for a while, to take it in and to learn from nature.
The noise level I experienced with a group of people makes me wonder why they come to a sanctuary like this, where the quiet is what you absorb. If you plan on seeing anything, you need to be quiet and sadly they will leave the sanctuary thinking there is nothing there. My morning was quite productive with many wonderful photos taken; not all wildlife, but the flora which is quite beautiful. However it was the sounds of quiet, the gentle breeze, the buzzing of the bees and the singing of the birds that I took away with me this fine morning.
I know I have written about how I became a photographer, but not why. Throughout my life I have owned a camera and I would spend hours with my father in his dark room watching the images appear on the paper. I never really thought about it back then, but I knew I was pretty good at it even at a young age. Then life happened and I put down the camera and really didn’t pick one up again until my boys were born, I took quite a few photos of them and of course I took photos of our family vacations. After getting separated from my husband I once again laid down the camera and stopped taking photos. I was working a lot and If I honestly look back at that time period I was depressed. I worked, and slept and not much else. Up until that point I had mostly used a Nikon and Canon SLR film camera with a limited knowledge of digital so I went out and purchased a cheap HP digital camera. I used it for a week and realized it wasn’t what I wanted so I took it back and traded it in for a Kodak, it was much easier to use and the battery life was really good. It was exactly what I needed. I realized to get myself out of the depression I was in I needed to get outdoors and start taking photos again.
I never shared with anyone about my depression, I was embarrassed I wasn’t in control of my emotions. I know the feeling of wanting to end my life, as I had considered that as a way out, however I had way too much to live for and could not fathom what my children would think. That $80 camera was my saving grace; my medication in a flash card.
As time elapsed I was able to purchase a DSLR camera, I purchased a Canon EOS XS and learned all I could about using it, I started with wildlife and evolved into working with a radio station taking concert photos, what a wonderful feeling that was to get close up to the stars of my youth. Exhilarating to say the least! I was able to purchase studio supplies with backgrounds, lighting and several great lenses. I learned Photoshop and Lightroom and last year I was able to upgrade my camera equipment once again. I have been privileged to shoot in some awesome venues on the West and East Coast of Florida and I have expanded my work to shooting portraits and weddings as well. I am building a wonderful business with some great repeat clients and have an incredible following on this blog and on Facebook, Twitter and a couple of other social media sites.
I know this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing with my life. I’m also thrilled that I get to work with another extremely talented photographer, someone I have known his entire life; my son. He’s so incredibly talented and I don’t have to worry about him or what he may say or do with the clients, he’s a consummate professional and proud to have him as my wedding photography partner.
With this all being said, I am so sad that so many face depression daily, and some to the point of where they feel there is no way out, I wish everyone who is depressed could rebound as easily as I have, but as we know with the great Robin Williams who was loved, so very talented and seemed to have it all together, yet he was so deep into his sadness that he felt he had no other alternative but to take his own life. We will never know what he was thinking or how he came to that decision, but I hope we can all learn. Get help if you need it, don’t feel embarrassed you’re not alone. I was fortunate, my therapist was behind the lens. Rest in Peace Robin Williams the world will miss you.
I get out into the wild as often as I possibly can. I lived in the Swamps of Fakahatchee Strand for 13 years and even though I no longer live there I still love being there and enjoying the outdoors. As a photographer it helps me keep focused and to enhance my creativity.
Today I visited another swamp area called the Babcock Ranch Preserve and took their swamp buggy tour, well worth the trip. This area is a working ranch and contains cattle from the days of the conquistador.
Wildlife abounds in this rich environmental area and they don’t seem to have the surge of exotics that have invaded other areas of South West Florida.
I have passed the genetics of photography to my youngest son, who lives in the heart of the Everglades. They are constantly battling exotics such as the snake he encountered in April of 2013; check out the article from Huffington Post below.
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On August 2, 2014 I was fortunate enough to photograph the iconic Progressive Rock band YES. I arrived early to check out the venue as it was new for me to photograph there and upon arriving I phoned my contact. As I was waiting for him to arrive, the staff invited me to enter and enjoy the beautiful lobby area of the Mahaffey Theatre. The employees were so incredibly nice to me it made the beginning of this beautiful evening so wonderful. I was escorted in and was thrilled to find out I was shooting toward the front of the stage; sometimes in venues such as this I am relegated to the back of the hall, but tonight I was up front! Again an awesome start to what was going to be one of the best concert evenings I’ve had in a really long time. Every concert I attend is incredible, in very different ways, because I love photographing rock bands. This night was magical because YES is one of my bucket list bands to photograph and I was honored to be the only photographer there (not including their house photographer). As I finished up with the last song I was able to shoot, my escort led me to the back and asked if I wanted to get a “long” shot of the stage, well of course I did and I thanked him for the opportunity to do so.
As I packed up my gear to depart the venue I walked outside and the evening was so beautiful and balmy. I then realized they were piping the concert out on the patio area so I found a bench sat and listened as I watched one of the most magnificent light shows being displayed over Tampa Bay. Did I mention the Mahaffey Theatre overlooks the bay? Well it does and the balmy breeze mixed with the lightning and the twinkling of the lighted palms along with the incredible music that was being emitted I was simply too relaxed to move. This had to be heaven, because I was sitting there remembering concerts that had a bit of drama involved and realized this was well worth being there alone. Great photos, great venue, equals a great evening.
God’s Light Show