What follows is a brief zygote of an idea. Once a week I will be posting snap shots of my current writing project. All post will be titled “The Original Whatever”.
So I get to be a writer, of sorts, so they tell me, pending government approval of my tax status. This will make a lot of people pretty damn cynical and mad about the current state of writing in this country. Let me give you a list of reasons why I should not be a writer.
1. I am a terrible speller; even with the use of spellchecker I am still dreadfully bad at spelling. A fear of mine is that I actually write a book that people buy and I have to go to book signings and the public discovers that I cannot spell anyone’s name correctly when autographing their copy of my book.
2. “There”, “their” and that third spelling of “they’re” all mean the same thing to me. I toss “their”, “there” and “they’re” anywhere and hope for the best.
3. The use of commas, apostrophes and remembering to add “s” on to the end of plural words remain a mystery to me. Thank goodness for my Editor-at-Large, Elizabeth (my wife who can spell magnificently and totally gets the “their”, there”, “they’re” thing.)
4. My friends who actually want to be writers, who have degrees in writing, who have a trilogy of already completed novels, edited and saved on their computers, will be furious with me that I got published before them. (p.s. these friends are way better at spellchecker and grammar pro combined.) I am always calling them and asking “how do you spell that” and “what’s that wavy ~ symbol used for again”) Yep they will want to kick my ass and I will not even use my superhero powers of Creative Non-Fiction Man to protect myself. I deserved it.
Exposure: 0.017 sec (1/60)
Focal Length: 62 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
This story may seem a little odd, but it’s a true story. Well, actually it’s an event that reads like a story. I chased down a rainbow last night for Joe Perez. Let me start out with some background on the how and the why I became involved in chasing a rainbow for Perez.
Perez is a write/blogger based out Seattle, WA. Don’t you just love using phrases such as “based out of” instead of simply saying, “lives in”. I do. It makes my inner journalist smile. I have not yet met Joe but I have shared a couple of e-mail exchanges, one phone conversation, co-authored a short lived blog with him, and read his book. I feel confident in saying if I lived in Seattle, or better yet, if I were based out of Seattle, Perez and I would be friends. With that being said, from this point forward I will be referring to Perez, as Joey. Why? Because I like adding a “y” to the end of all my friends’ first names whenever possible. You cannot say names like Joey, Jenny, Mickey, and Glenney without smiling.
Back to why I was chasing a rainbow last night for my friend Joey. On Joey’s blog he uses an old rainbow photo of mine whenever he writes about gay rights and gay related issues. I love the idea (and am thankful) that he has chosen one of my photos to symbolize a reoccurring theme in his work. Here is the problem; I do not like the photograph that I took. It’s a diffused, bland, grayish shot taken quickly before dusk set in. I did not properly set up the shot; I did not use a tri-pod and did not even have the camera set to the correct adjustment. It is a snapshot, not a photograph.
That’s the back story, this is the how the event unfolded.
Let me paint you a picture of the rainbow I was chasing for Joey. This multicolored arc in the sky combined all seven colors of rainbows from bright red at the top to the beautiful violet beam closest to earth. All shafts of light with the bright, vivid colors of a crayon box. From left to right this rainbow gently kissed the horizon. Directly above this rainbow sat a second rainbow softly muted with hues of fading light. That was a majestic moment of the splendor and glory of our landscape. Come on, when do you get the chance to see a rainbow sitting atop of a second rainbow. Wow.
As for me, I got to enjoy all these magnificent images sent from heaven above while driving along a six lane interstate highway doing 75mph at the end of rush hour. It was right at the point when driving goes from sitting in traffic (the-non-rush-hr) to “get out of my bleeping way”, when the interstate becomes a NASCAR track.
I moved into survival mode, staying alive, taking pleasure in all the splendor of the rainbow and did not kill anybody, especially myself. Here I am, 75 mph, staring out my driver’s side window, listening to R.E.M. tremendously too loud on the stereo and thinking about Joey and how I would like to update that photo. Did I mention, no camera on board, damn, damn, damn…?
I call my wife, who is in the middle of editing a large photo project herself and I ask her to run outside and snap off a couple of shots. 75mph, staring out my driver’s side window, listening to R.E.M. tremendously too loud and now I am on my cell phone, what could go wrong? My wife gets back on the phone, “no rainbow in the sky, sorry” damn, damn, damn…
What next? Have to pick up my daughter at the Grandparents damn, damn, damn… I have no camera, my wife does not have a shot and I am running out of time and light. I feel like I am chasing a rainbow in a ghost town. Nobody is ever going to believe the perfection of this rainbow.
That’s the end of my story. I never got the shot for Joey and I will have to live with the photo that he is using. I never caught the rainbow, only chased it. Anyway what would I do with a pot of gold?
Hey did I tell you about the leprechaun?
69-72: Cradle years, no memories but I am desperately afraid of bars to this day.
1977: Second grade: First music teacher, drum lesson, he always called us girls. Never forgot his teaching.
1982: Seventh grade: Picked up the guitar and got good at sports (finally), well not very good just not embarrassingly bad.
1984: Ninth grade: First band called “The Blast”, and it was. Grew hair, made parents proud.
1987: Graduated High School, my parents proved the power of prayer.
1988: Went to college – Communication major – Literature, philosophy and photography came alive to me.
1989: Met Jesus and said “hi”, read a lot of Nietzsche.
1991: Understood Nietzsche, some of it. Had “The College Bar-Band”, wrote really bad poetry and song lyrics, great period of my life but not even close to the best period.
1992: Hello real world. That costs how much????
1993: Met Buddha, asked him “where did you get those sandals”, he responded “walk right down that middle path over there”.
1994 – 2000: Took a lot of photos, traveled the country and survived Y2K of pending death.
1996: Was given a dog as a gift, Kiani (a.k.a. –the K-man), the best spiritual teacher ever. Walked into the woods, discovered God. Actually the K-man introduced us.
2001: Put out first CD with Sarah Wilkins. Played a lot of coffee houses, churches and festivals, discovered that red wine and coffee are my drugs of choice.
2002: Introduced to Elizabeth, breathed air for the very first time.
2003: Put out first and only instrumental CD.
2004: Married Elizabeth, proving the power of prayer to myself.
2005: Craig Photography became a husband and wife team, best lifestyle, economical, decision ever. “E” and I rock as a team. Went to Italy, brought back a bean.
2006: Elizabeth gave birth to the “Bean”, we call her Ella. The “E –Team came alive.
07-Present: Smile all the time, best period of my life so far……
Finished Wade Davis’ book on Indigenous cultures. I cannot wait to read more of his writing. All too often when I find an author or book that I love I immediately read a second book of the same author. Then I spend all my time reading that second book thinking that I am not enjoying it as much as the first. This time I am going to place a couple of short novels between my Wade Davis reading. A novel by Murakami, this will make my fourth or fifth novel by him followed up with “The Great Gatsby” by Fitzgerald. Then I will immerse myself back into the writing of Davis.
8 a.m., traffic, morning radio, chilly sixty degrees outside. I am completely impartial to my surroundings. Hypnotic driving – not very safe, nonetheless a made it to my destination without hurting anyone.
My friends were either one hundred percent Italian or one hundred percent Irish. I was a 50/50 split, mutt blend of sorts. I would grow up to like beer with my spaghetti. I yearned for my last name to end with a vowel or to have the double constant of “cC” at the start of my last name. For me, my last name was stuck with five non-repeating letters with the vowels placed properly in the middle.
The ethnicity of our parents meant the customs of the old-world, “the mother land” as I would jokingly refer to it. Church, spaghetti dinners, team sports and yard work were the fundamentals of life. We were all Catholic with a large “C”. We listened to Springsteen, watched the Steelers and drank iced tea out of the cardboard box container, three for 97 cents from the corner store. This is when having a local economy and local store were a convenience of life. The 20 minute drive out of town to the Mall or the store was a waste of a good afternoon that could be better spent playing ball down at the field. The field was what we called the park that we would meet at everyday, I’m sure this field had a proper name but I never new it.
The seasons were marked by the change in the sports we played rather than the weather or the color of the leaves on the trees. Winter – football, spring – baseball, summer – basketball, autumn - more basketball and wiffle ball that was played on the basketball court after they took down the nets for the season. I never got good at basketball even though I have played more pick up games than most NBA players would dream of. I always thought if I ever wrote a book about my life I would title it, “Because I couldn’t make a jump shot”. Nonetheless poor basketball skills fueled my motivation for practicing guitar.
Sundays were blocked off for family dinners, watching football and sitting on the sofa. This was my town’s version of keeping the Sabbath. Commandments four and five were taken very seriously, sort of. Being of the large “C” Catholics that we were, keeping the remaining eight commandments were easy, no stealing, no murdering, no coveting all seems pretty simple not to break. Nobody was quite sure what “bearing false witness against your neighbor” was, so that one didn’t count if we broke it. Number three, not taking the Lord’s name in vain, was only a problem for the parents.
Grandparents lived within walking distance. Mine lived next door; great for getting an extra dish of late night ice cream, bad for sneaking girls into your house when your parents went away.
We were the sons of blue-collar fathers. We fixed our own cars, borrowed tools from our neighbors and mended fences. Truth be told, I never actually mended a fence but I am sure I painted one or two in my time. “Work with your back or work with your mind”, “bring the work to you instead of you going to the work”. That is what my Father ritually recited to me when working. Metaphors that turned out to be great advice for working in photography, blending your hands and mind worked out to be the perfect fit for me.
It is said that culture is watching the world construct itself before it goes, a gift from our imagination. My culture planted seeds.
The best photographer I know does not work in the photography industry. He works in construction. He walked away from the trade when a photograph became a lie. The idea of after capture manipulation combined with the layering use of Photoshop killed the art form for him.
Even though he has been out of the industry for well over a decade, he is still the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to photography. Often when I am troubleshooting a workflow problem he will give me a back-to-basic (back to camera) answer. His comprehension is rooted in the classic approach to capturing an image. Light first, your time second.
He no longer owns a camera or reads current photography publications, nonetheless the depth and span of his craft is well intact.
I have found time and time again the best at their craft do not work in the industry.
When I was playing music on a professional level, countless times I would share the stage with much more established and popular performers. Frequently I found their talents to be superior in marketing than in musicianship. For myself, on numerous occasions, I would meet an older gentleman after a show that looks like he had never even seen a guitar, then watch as he picked up my guitar and listened as he schooled me on what true musicianship is.
Previously I have written about “Natural Depth of Field” and posted a photo and asked the reader to guess how it was taken. The photo received hundreds of hits and only one guess??? Why is before capture thought becoming less and less of creative thought. I am stating a new series that I call “Mystery Gallery”. Photography done in camera, no Photoshop, no layers, no filters, no manipulation or enhancements at all…
Question to the working artist out there: What’s more important to you--the past or the future of your craft?
To define the ambient-minimalist design would be to: First, think about the natural light then artificial light. Second, think about the color of the walls and the art displayed on the walls. Third, think about furniture that fits the space you placed it in. The last and most fundamental of ambient-minimalist design is if you see “it”, the “it” has a purpose.
Lying in bed I found myself daydreaming of these open spaces. Music, art, natural light, airflow, and plants all gave me feelings of calm. Having a home rooted with ambient principles aided my healing. I realize how a little time spent in those ambient spaces opened up my breathing (mentally & physically) along with my mind and heart.
“In the U.S. economy the current mindset is everything you own, owns you.”
I am a sucker for the idea of living off the grid. Reducing my carbon footprint on the Earth sits well with my hope for the future. Herb garden, vegetable garden, a stockpile of whole grains and a good internet connection, a couple of pairs of sandals and I am off the grid and running carbon free (almost).
The splendor and glory of not being tied down to life with a mortgage, utility bills and present mindset of society is a fantasy. A dream worthy of having, if not possible of completely achieving, completely striving for it is a noble cause in itself and for future generations.
In reality this vision is up there with my dream of climbing Mt. Everest. The idea of a simple lifestyle is only a dream for the already well-off. I do not think that the citizens of Africa are trying to think of ways to get back to basic. The important realization is that if you are one of the lucky ones thinking about “ the modern simplicity movement” then you have to embrace the blessed life that you have achieved (or been born into). Being born on U.S. soil is the golden ticket no matter what your social economical outlook is. The greater part of the globe is trying to sustain existence while America is trying to simplify life.
The “we” of the “us” who are lucky enough to dream about the simplicity movement need to wake-up to the complex problems that is surrounding the world today. What is needed is a culture creative (integral) outlook with progressive values that include all. Active citizens that take steps with a purpose in ethics, environment and economics will be the catalyst for future behavior.
The simple answer to me about “ The Modern Simplicity Movement” is that (some) people are coming down from the mountaintop after seeing the view. Consumerism is not meant for all. But why do only some come down from the mountaintop? Many stay at the mountaintop that are not able to maintain their economic existence.
Arrival is a myth, but perfection is found in the process.
Be a poet of the Light
The emotion of the light – God’s light
Lights, color, patterns and textures do not wait on a photographer. Pre-visualization is what is needed. This ancient approach to composition demands a slower, contemplative approach. Nature by it own nature is naturally messy, seek out a simple, mindful subject. Open your mind’s-eye so wide that it will include your thoughts and wishes. Notice the garden of light that surrounds you.
Be a poet of the light. Walk in the garden, feel the waves, vibrations and energy that light created. God formed the universe with light. A single verse of light that births all creation and evolution. Photography is ancient.
Vicodin, moments of stillness, hearing my own breath, cravings for scotch, motion all around me, quiet in my head, piano music plays in the background.
Sunday 9am woken by a crying baby, headache, and day five of recovery from sinus surgery. Toast, eggs and coffee prepared by Elizabeth for me. Life for her must be trying, I always seem to be sick – I am sorry for that. My daughter sits on my lap and eats my eggs. I’m thankful for the time spent with her.
Children, life and time seem to be equations meant for failure. If you spend too much time with your child, then as a provider for your family you will fail. If you spend too much time away from your family providing from them than as a Father you will fail your child. Balance with self-expectation; no clue how to answer that?
Watched the “The Darjeeling Limited” today. Good existentialism film. Not much of beginning-middle-end plot line, nonetheless I enjoyed it. Been reading “Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate” by Wendy Johnson. It’s a lovely memoir on soil, composting, and Zen. I am reading about dirt and enjoying it, could be a sign of old age?
Left over pizza and apple slices for dinner. Want to go for a walk, should sleep.