Thoughts on inspiration…

from under a bridge.

a colorful underside of a bridge with sharp light segments and some snow

First you must have the images, then come the words.”

Robert James Waller, The Bridges of Madison County

I photograph first and then I write, for it’s the images that speak to me.

I rarely go out with expectations of what I’m going to photograph. It’s far more interesting to look around and see what’s there, which was how I ended up under this bridge. I can’t even begin to estimate the amount of travel this bridge sees as it leads to one of the most picturesque mountain sites in the country.

Great movie, by the way, the Bridges of Madison County. Written in eleven days after the author spent some time photographing bridges proving once again that inspiration can come from the most simple of events.

Falling…

through cracks.

DSC_2661-EditThe cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.

Vladimir Nabokov

I look down from the 3rd floor in the early morning hours as the big city begins to stir. It has a life of its own, a rhythm, a pulse, this city that I am but a guest in.

I watch a man, perhaps younger than myself, push a cart laden with bottles and cans. He stops to check the dumpster and makes a selection of a handful of items.

I wonder if anyone misses him. I can’t imagine what his life is like compared to mine.

What happened that made him fall through the cracks…

 

Truer words…

if there is magic.

looking into a river and seeing the patterns emerge as water flows over rocks blue green palette


If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.

Loren Eiseley

Eiseley was quoted as being a scholar and writer of imagination and grace. His reverence for the natural world and his eloquent and poetic way of writing about it is nothing short of inspirational.

I share his thoughts on water. It compels in me a strong desire to record its transient nature and its variant forms.

The image above is part of a series that I have some special plans for and I hope that it in turns inspires people to look, really look, at the beauty of our natural world.

Note: Those of you signed up to receive my blog by e-mail received a link that was not functioning correctly. My apologies, I will post that when it is corrected.

And the geek…

in me comes out.

clear transparent ice reveals the lily pads lying frozen above and beneath the surfaceWater is the key to life, but in frozen form, it is a latent force. And when it vanishes, Earth becomes Mars.

Frans Lanting

As temperatures continue to plummet all over the country I wanted to take a closer look at this image from a frozen spring fed lake.

It was captivating to stroll on the ice looking deep into its depths at the frozen tableau.

It feeds my fascination with water and how nothing is ever the same and each encounter shares something new.

This was congelation ice that forms underneath an existing layer of ice, building off the bottom. Then when the top layer melts, the clarity of the ice below is revealed.

And once again the natural world parallels human nature. Sometimes what you see on the surface doesn’t come close to what lies beneath…

Dwelling in…

conflict.

A used tire, coated in ice, litters the surface of Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho while others lurk below the surface.
What Lies Beneath © Sheryl R Garrison

Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating. We only exist in terms of this conflict, in the zone where black and white clash.

Louis Aragon

Looking at this image makes me think that there really isn’t much hope for humanity. The simplest concept that the earth could go on without us but that we can’t survive without its natural resources seems to elude a large percentage of the population.

Perhaps those are the same ones that love to dwell in conflict. Where everything is never enough and the concept of accountability is just a word that’s too long to pronounce. The conflict becomes too intoxicating to put down and common sense falls by the wayside.

But I digress…

I”ll likely not be around in 50 years but those tires sure will be.

It’s (almost always) about the water.

The disconnect…

that keeps you from being a better artist…

dsc_2437-editLearning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.

William Pollard

So many of my blog posts lately stem from some great conversations that start out having nothing to do with photography. Like this one about how we learn and how the ability to see ourselves or our artwork with any degree of objectivity molds our progress, dictates whether our work evolves or stays stagnant. Weighty stuff over a morning coffee perhaps but that’s exactly the kind of spark that ignites my creativity.

It’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when you have supportive friends and family “liking” and “commenting” on your latest work. For me that’s an essential part of a supportive journey and greatly appreciated, but it has little to do with reality. The reality part is my responsibility.

This time of year I really like to take a hard look at my body of work and see how it’s grown over the year or even better, decade or more. That gives me the information that I need to continue to grow, to see the nuances in my work, and to be a better artist.

Some images still hold the test of time and can be pulled into current work easily while others show the importance of being able to turn a critical eye on your own work. We all have them, those ones from years ago that make you wonder what you were thinking. It’s good to have those reminders that hopefully show you how far you’ve come.

And that’s why some people move forward and create better work, while others stay exactly where they are. That disconnect in the ability to recognize what you do know and more importantly what you don’t because it’s recognizing that that propels your work forward and keeps you from stagnating in a pool of murky pond water.

Because you know…it’s (almost always) about the water.

 

On challenges…

and friendships.

dsc_3519-editYou’re going to find out who your friends are. Anything that happens in your life is one of those challenges. It may not be at the level of celebrity, but everybody’s going to travel that road.

Stanley A. McChrystal

There’s nothing quite like a divorce to give you clarity on the people in your life. I suppose the very nature of it forces choices upon people and that’s been the interesting part for me. And yes, I think it’s important to talk about this stuff, really important.

We’ve had some fascinating conversations lately delving into stories of friends old and new, and finding that while some have a “best by” date, others are the true definition of a friend. The experiences of the past two years have taught me things that I will use going forward and hopefully as a result, I will be a better and more supportive friend to those still in my life.  Interested in becoming a better friend?? Read on for three key points that could make a difference…

Top five most stressful life events include death of a loved one, divorce, moving, major illness or injury, and job loss. Any one these things can be extremely stressful, combine them and that’s really cause for alarm.

The narrative of the event can change and become something that no longer even     remotely resembles the truth.

We’ve both experienced this one where the reality gets white-washed with a fresh coat of paint and becomes the new, less incriminating version of what happened. Got a question about something? If you value the friendship at all ask, don’t assume that what you’ve heard is the truth.

Don’t know what to say?

How about a message or voicemail saying “Hi, I thought about you today, how are you?” We don’t always want to talk about “it” either, sometimes it’s nice to get out of our own heads and hear about what’s going on in your life. Moving forward from a traumatic event is an important part of healing.

Be aware that just because a person looks okay it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are okay.

Uprooting your entire life is tough stuff and the emotions go deep, some of us just hide it better. I’m grateful for my support team of friends who not only believed in me but looked after both my physical and mental health needs.

The image above was taken on New Year’s Day, one of the days that I make a tradition of photographing, often by myself in years past. For me it had all the right elements…bitter cold, blowing snow, and beautiful wintry colors. The symbolism of the empty road obscured in the foreground and vanishing into the distance was not lost on me.

Where some might see a bleak landscape I saw a clean slate, a road less travelled, and I took it, and as luck would have it I was with a friend.