I have been involved with an incredible group of photographers for about six months and one of them does not shoot digital at all. He actually shoots large and medium format and develops his own work. This has intrigued me because I grew up with a father who shot mostly black & white and did all of his own developing. My dad owned a couple of medium format cameras; of course back in the day I didn’t understand what that meant. I actually inherited one of those cameras the Yashica Mat 124 G and have wanted to learn how to use it all over again. I grew up using film (mostly color that had to be taken somewhere to be developed). I want to go “old school”. I’ve added to my collection of cameras by purchasing a beautiful Nikon F2 from a yard sale with a multitude of lens. Both cameras have simply been on a shelf, but it’s now time to move forward and face the fear of re-entering the world of film. I have ordered black & white film for both cameras, plus a polaroid film for an upcoming project. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I feel that taking myself out of my comfort zone and tackling film will help me to be a better photographer. I’ll be posting photos once they are processed and scanned.
I’ve taken the next couple of days off to expand my Memorial Day weekend and to give myself some much needed mental health time, and decided this morning I would try a new place I read about. I got in my car and headed to Bird Rookery Swamp. Anyone who knows me, knows I enjoy adventures and I really enjoy finding new places to photograph. I’ve been so busy I’ve not had time recently to get out and photograph the natural world.
Entering a new place for the first time, I’m always amazed at what I may see and I was thrilled to be the only person on the path. I thoroughly enjoyed the coolness of the trees and the wonderful breeze on this hot, almost summer day. The first thing I came upon is a Red Shouldered Hawk, he’s watching me almost as intently as I am watching him.
The next unusual thing I came across is a Shelf Fungus on the top of railing on the boardwalk. It was quite beautiful and delicate looking.
Walking further on the path, I came upon something called a Witch’s Broom, it’s about halfway up a Cypress Tree, and is an odd growth of parasites and insects which cause damage on the tree and causes the tree to have a strange growth and it looks like a large nest.
The sounds were incredible, a Piliated Woodpecker pounding on a tree which echoed throughout the swamp. Juvenile Red Shouldered Hawks were a constant source of sound along with various other songbirds.
As I continued to walk I watched a White-Tailed Deer run across the path in front of me and I went searching to see where it had gone, turns out it was a gorgeous six-point buck with a full rack of undisturbed velvet still in place. He too looked right at me.
A couple of young raccoons were looking for their morning breakfast and feasted upon numerous lizards they were chasing, sometimes up into the trees. They were curious of me, but we gave each other a respectful distance.
This place was truly amazing and I will be going back again soon.
One of my life’s greatest achievements are my children. I have two grown boys 31 & 28 and I take delight in what wonderful young men they are. I don’t see my oldest too often, but he holds the place in my heart where I was hurting most. During the last few weeks of my pregnancy I lost my dad and Jimmy came along a week (to the day) later. He kept my mind occupied and I was able to move forward with life. He is my first born and is an incredible athlete and loves the outdoors and strikingly handsome, at the age of 11 a young lady from his school class came to me and said “Mrs. Owen Jimmy is so fine” and I would have to agree he’s is fine in all areas, he’s a great man. Three years and three months later, my life was completely turned upside down once again with the birth of the cutest little blonde blue-eyed guy….Tommy was early and from a really difficult pregnancy and I wasn’t sure if either of us was going to make it. Make it we did and he was so full of vim & vinegar. Always into something and taking life by the horns. We were told when he was little that he would grow up to do great things…..and he has; In his 28 years so far he has been on a PBS Zoom program based on the Everglades and it’s still featured on the teacher’s portion of the PBS website. He’s was sent to an environmental camp for Hispanic kids (he’s NOT Hispanic), and he went back the following year to film it. He’s paddled the entire Mississippi River not once but twice by kayak and canoe, second time alone with his dog. He wrestled a 10 foot Python out of the water, lived to tell about it and is a featured article in the 2105 Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Special Edition and he’s an incredible photographer and guide in the region he grew up in. I spend the most time with him, because he’s closest. It was no different this Mother’s Day. I went down to visit him and his boss surprised him by giving him the entire day off to spend with me. We began the day with a picnic lunch at Turner River Road and then took a short drive down the road to see if anything interesting was out. We continued from there to the Fakahatchee (where he grew up) and walked down a newly forged path and so glad we did. He has a keen eye for wildlife and is always looking at his surroundings for the live and interesting. This time around he spotted something that seemed out of place, it was the entire skeleton carcass of a very large deceased alligator. We surmised it was the remains from the emaciated alligator we had seen a few months prior, one we thought had already died. Even though it was not in the same pond area, we felt it had moved to find deeper water and breathed it’s last in this area. The bones were pretty much intact and some were a little scattered due to scavengers on the body, but the bones were clean and the head and jaws were massive. We had a bit of creative inspiration with the head and I was able to get some great photographs of the alligator and of my extremely photogenic son.
Today was not just any day at the beach, it was a sort of celebration with friends. One of those friends has been having the battle of her life; cancer. But not today, today we are celebrating the fact that she is 100% cancer free. Her journey began last October when she wasn’t able to stay awake for very long at a time. Not a good thing when you are driving back and forth to work. She finally got to the point where she was having a difficult time waking up at all. A visit to the ER ended up being several weeks long as they immediately did surgery and found two small brain tumors which turned out to be a Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She was given radiation and chemo and with the prayers from so many, now six plus months later she has been set free! So today we her friends gathered on the beach to simply enjoy the company of her in our life and rejoice in the fact that we are here WITH her.
I have written about her before and I guess this is a sort of catch up on that past article.
We need to make sure we love on those that are close to us because life can change in a heartbeat literally. For me personally I love hard & deep, but sometimes it’s difficult to let those important folks in my life know how much I do care. I’m trying to be better, I’m working on being more open and authentic with how I feel, it’s especially difficult in new relationships because not truly knowing the person makes it difficult to open up……again an area I’m working on.
You may be wondering what all this has to do with photography, well of course I am going to post photos of our outing, but it’s more than that. I did take photos of my friend after she lost her hair, but they were for her eyes only, because I felt she needed to document this blip in her life. I wanted her to have not just the memory, but the fact that she can look back on this and KNOW she beat something that could have taken her life and to give her strength whenever she needs to have a dose of it.
This experience has changed how I think and how I view life. I’ve learned so much from her, how to be strong in the face of life’s greatest adversities, how to share love with the people I care about and most of all to embrace the passions in life and to not put off my “bucket list” items. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, so we must live today as if it’s our last, and we must love like there won’t be a tomorrow.
I also see a difference in how I take photos as minor as that may be. I am becoming less technical and more intuitive, allowing my heart and my eyes direct what I shoot, I feel it’s making me a much better photographer.
Recently I was told I needed to write a book. This is something I have contemplated more than a few times, but I don’t know if I have what it takes to write interesting enough words someone else will want to read. Okay, yes I write this blog but it’s about things that are happening to me within my photographic experiences and I’m not sure what to write in book form. Do I take my life experiences and go with that (limited as they are), or do I write fiction? My life is a bit boring, so not sure what fascinating things I could come up with to share with other’s enough to get people to pick up a book and read. I’m a normal person, I don’t have grand adventures and I don’t visit exotic places. I choose to stay in my area and to go out once in a while and take photos. I guess if it’s something I’m meant to do, then it will happen so for now I will think about the subject matter and wait for the inspiration to hit me.
It was a dark and stormy night…………..
Spring is a great time for renewing……
For many months I have been contemplating making some majors changes. Even though I have made a good amount of change in my life, I knew I needed more. I also began really looking at my business and even though I love every photograph I take I realized that I need to direct my energies into something a bit more specific. I enjoy every aspect of photography, from meeting people to the last image I work on, but I know success will come from specializing, so as of right now I am taking myself out of a couple of markets.
I have had this pull of wanting to photograph women over forty. I feel we are such a neglected group of people. At this age we are raising children or may be getting ready to hatch them out of the nest, but we are so busy we neglect ourselves. We are no longer in family photos because most of the time we are the photographer or we are uncomfortable with how we look because we simply don’t have the time to take care of our own needs and have let ourselves go. As I have shared in prior posts I was so guilty of this, for as many great vacations our family went on, I have lots of photos of my ex-husband and our boys, but none of myself and it makes me incredibly sad to think they don’t have photos of their mom. When I’m gone how are their kids and grandkids going to remember me?
I have shared this before; it took me stepping in front of a camera to understand how important it is.
This brings me to my changes…..I have changed my look totally and I have also changed my reach on photography. I will continue doing events and concerts because I truly love the challenge of them, but when it comes to portraiture work I am scaling back on weddings and families and I am going to focus on women, specifically women over forty. I feel this is where I should be. I will only photograph weddings and family portraits when they are referred, but I will no longer solicit for them.
I am in the process of creating some studio space for myself so that I can invite clients to my home for a shoot if needed, although my passion is being outdoors and getting the perfect images with nature all around. I am in the process of re-evaluating where my pricing needs to be to make a living at doing what I love.
It’s not an easy road, but it will be a wonderful journey even if the road gets too bumpy and I think I should turn back, I won’t! Photography is my passion and I will live my dreams. I also need to nurture my relationships with others, my tendency is to steamroll into whatever I am doing and neglect the people I care about, but I have learned I must have healthy relationships and make sure those I care about know it. I must also take care of my emotional and physical needs and allow myself to be taken care of from time to time. Also, I simply must take my camera out for a day of shooting either alone or with friends, but I must do it. Life is all about the journey and what we leave behind. What is your legacy?