Architect…

as a verb.

DSC_1817-Edit-2It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam.This crisp winter air is full of it.

John Burroughs

I watched an inspiring speech by Mathew McConaughey this week, thank you LH for posting it, that talked about being the architects of our own lives. To not do the things that put our souls in jeopardy. To find out who we are not in order to then learn who we are.

Timing…sometimes that’s the critical element that allows a message to really sink in and for me the timing was right to hear words about simplifying my life.

Every time I pick up a camera I choose very deliberately what will be within that framework so why then is it so difficult to use that same process in life?

We are each as individual as the snowflake pictured above. We each value and follow different paths in search of that which brings happiness and contentment. If we were to compare those snapshots of our lives each would look entirely different.

Following along the lines of last week’s blog post of a self-portrait, I am going to spend more time treating my life as a photograph, carefully framing its elements, removing those that no longer suit, and filling it with those things that feed my soul.

Architect as a verb…that works for me.

A long time coming…

a self portrait.

DSC_1677-Edit-2Photography is an austere and blazing poetry of the real.

Ansel Adams

I’ve been playing around with portraits lately, you know, part of that exercise to do those things that you’re the least comfortable with. Replacing fear with confidence allows you to make choices that aren’t predicated around a feeling that you could fail.

When your life has gone through a complete upheaval the tendency is to analyze every choice that you made and to find reasons why you made the choices that you did.

I think that it’s a necessary part of recovery but there also comes a time to let those things go and take a good long look in the mirror. I’ve found through chance encounters that my story is not all that unique and with that discovery comes a sense of relief. I am grateful to those women who have shared their stories with me.

The photo above is about looking in that mirror. It is a self portrait of where I am right now in this moment.

Every so often in nature, with jaw dropping vistas a far as the eye can see, you encounter a tiny intimate landscape that just speaks to you on a whole different level.

This was one of those defining moments.

And how unusual…

It’s almost always about the water.

Is it art…

just because we say it’s so?

DSC_1027-Edit-EditBefore the people at large, and for that matter, the artists themselves, understand what photography really means, as I understand that term, it is essential for them to be taught the real meaning of art.

Alfred Stieglitz

Had some interesting conversations lately about art; what it is and what it is not.

Is it the piece of dryer lint tied with thread and given space at a gallery? Or perhaps it’s the old sheet hung on the wall with a word written on it? Is it assembly line production of paper and glue?

Is it art because it matches your sofa cushions? Is it art because you cut an old RV in half and applied social commentary to it? Does the quality of the material used elevate the work?

The very definition of art, the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination would lead me to believe that there are more components involved than the simple desire to be called an artist.

Recent art exhibits seemed to be accompanied by lengthy bios on the artist and the creative process that resulted in some of the exhibits mentioned above leading me to wonder is it art if it has to be explained to you in advance of the viewing?

For me whatever I’m looking at, my own work or that of others, first and foremost it has to evoke some sort of emotion and secondly the creation of the piece has to have some component of skill and intention involved.

Art or craft…always a hot topic. I’m grateful for artists like Stieglitz who paved the way for photography as an art form.

There was a man with great passion, talent, and intention and I would have loved to shadow him for just one day as he worked.

Who moves you? What motivates you to create and not just replicate?

Not just a photograph…

but a memory.

DSC_0879-EditPhotography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation, and execution.

Ansel Adams

Winter landscapes are for me some of the most beautiful to capture.

Like a blueprint of time they contain a wealth of information; information that remains until the next wind blows and covers the tracks, or snow continues to fall burying that day’s history.

I knew immediately when I saw this image that I would render it in black and white.

Ansel Adams used a red filter to darken the sky in one of his photographs of the monolith in Yosemite. He already had in his mind the final image, not as he saw it but how he visualized it being.

Photography is a medium that allows for an immense amount of growth and how we choose to interpret that which lies on the other side of our lens is an intensely personal process.

Knowing this, accepting this, and staying true to this is the difference between a snapshot and a photograph.

A photograph is not only the image that it portrays but the memory that it holds.

When I look at this I am reminded of a very gentle man, a farmer, who several years ago during a challenging time showed me the true depth of his spirit and I hope that when he sees this he will recognize himself in the description and know that he made a difference.

The apex…

of scenting ability.

DSC_0770-3Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Years ago while involved in Search and Rescue I was introduced to tracking by a man named Jim Marshall. He cultivated in me an appreciation for awareness and personal space and the second nature to be always looking for indicators.

Today, one of my greatest joys is to find signs of animals passing through the wilderness and letting my imagination run wild with the back stories.

The discovery pictured above, along with a huge pile of hair laden scat, was heart rate elevating!

I searched for the perfect track to photograph and my mind raced with thoughts.

As a former bloodhound handler and instructor of scent theory, I’m well versed in the abilities of certain animals because of physiological makeup to be scenting machines.

Here I was in close proximity to one of the animals at the apex of this description…the grizzly bear. An animal purported to be able to scent 300 times more than a bloodhound.

This is the beauty of photography. Each time I look at this photograph I will remember the cold, the heightened awareness, the silence, and the joy that we felt when we saw it.

I had hoped to see elusive bear number TEN  of the year but I’m okay with it not being this particular bear.

Was he watching? Very likely.

Was I? Always.

Nature’s magnificence…

and coming back.

DSC_0446-Edit-2-Edit-3I wish that all of nature’s magnificence, the emotion of the land, the living energy of the place could be photographed.

Annie Leibovitz

This week has been a reminder of and an eye-opener to the scars that we bear.

This stand of trees still soars majestically skyward but bore not the brightly colored leaves of autumn, only blackened trunks and open wounds from the Kenow fire that swept through last year.

I find myself listening more and looking beyond the outer shells.

I find myself more willing to speak openly and wonder if that energy is being felt.

I find myself coming back.

Autumn…

equinox, is winter upon us?DSC_3037-Edit-2There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

The autumn equinox is upon us; the days will become shorter, and soon, if not already, the snow will begin to fall.

Today there will be equal hours of day and night and rituals abound for marking that sense of balance.

One of my favorite stories comes from Greek mythology and Persephone who was abducted from her mother,  harvest Goddess Demeter, and taken to the underworld to become the wife of Hades. She eventually got her back only to lose her to Hades for three months of every year. During this time Demeter would refuse to grow plants resulting in “winter”.

I don’t share Demeter’s sense of loss when winter comes calling. For me it’s a time of stark, clean landscapes and crystalline structures.

Enjoy every moment, not just the ones that are perfect…that’s what is important.