A Beauty-Full Life 2019
  Art for Sale
  24 Hour Creativity
  50: Years, Stories, Faces
  Czech Republic
  Haiku Triptych Series: Cemeteries
  Light Poles
  Mississippi Journey
  Subtlety of Beauty
  Swim, meet
  Walden: My place away from places
  The Galveston County Food Bank Story
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A Poet's Vision: Blog

I  was invited to exhibit in one of the International Fotofest 2018 exhibitions -- at a Baytown venue -- and I could not be more ecstatic. It is exciting and affirming to be juried into an exhibition, but it is an altogether different feeling when invited in.  Which got me to thinking.

Invite Others Into Your Expression

Let others be involved in your visual voice.  Some people will make good models, anxious to help you create.  Some will help with moving gear around.  Some will want to make props or loan them to you.  The list of possibilities is endless; invite others to join in.  Synergy results.  

If inviting others is not your style ... get over it!  Try involving others.  Be respectful of their roles, and enjoy the chemistry that comes from the process.

Invite Others to View

Share your photographs with others.  Seek exhibitions.  Create online galleries.  Publish books (even for an audience of one or a few).  Don't just "put stuff out there."  Invite others to view your work, particularly those who you have invited to be part of your expression.

Invite Others to Create

People naturally want to create.  As one who creates, you can encourage, inspire, collaborate, guide, mentor others to create with their own voice in whatever forms they want.  Your encouragement may just be what that person needs.  Everyone who takes the risk of creating needs affirmation and encouragement.

Bring down the barriers, break down the silos, lower the drawbridge, remove the facades and abolish the pretense ... be generous with your invitations.

Several years ago, I had the honor of being able to teach photography at ArtCamp at the University of West Bohemia in Plzen, Czech Republic.   Over the course of three summers, I saw much interesting and introspective work.  It makes me proud of and for students whose work I continue to see.  Irena Ellis is one of them.

Each class was one week long.  The students were required to complete a digital portfolio by the end of the week.  Irena's was titled "Everyday Courages" and it continues to resonate with me.  So much so, that I often encourage others to take a look and absorb the messages.  Today, I do so for you.

Check it out.  Read, look and absorb.  Then live courageously, moment by moment, day by day.

A student's enthusiasm, excitement, smiles and new-found insights is encouraging.  Multiply it by 70 students and... incredible!

I had the pleasure of teaching four sessions for the students taking Creative Writing at High School for Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.  I was asked to teach a variation of the course Words and Images that I created and teach at Houston Center for Photography.  By bringing photographic skills and sensibilities to the young writers, they could not only enhance their writing, but also learn how to blend the two.  The last of the four sessions was set aside for them to present their work.  The results were exciting, enlightening, complicated, simple, multidimensional, revealing ... they were outstanding.

For the first session, they learned about photographic concepts (several of those in my book, The Seeing, Not the Taking), and how to tap into their lives for insights and inspiration (using some of the tools of my latest book, LIFElines:  Empowering All Aspects of Your Life).  The utilized much of the former, and were wonderfully connected to the latter.  And their work showed it with images and words that conveyed the heart and soul of the work's creator.  Subsequent sessions required them to apply what they learned and create.  And create.

The fourth, and final, session called for them to present their work.  One student's response about interests and inspiration led to a Listen to Life blog posting!  Her simple insight screams for attention in our busy worlds.  The things that interest us can, and should, inspire us in many areas.  An interest in gardening could inspire photography, drawing, gardening, writing (factual, blogs, poetry, fantasy), cooking and much more.  The young woman was so pleased to find that that which interests her and inspires her also inspired her in her new expression -- photography.  I wanted to give her a hug.  And the other several dozen students, too!  So much talent ... 

My closing comments to them would be my comment to you:  "As life continues and you grow older, never forget the power of your voice.  Never lose your voice.  God bless you."

Long before the "Genome Project," I knew what was in my DNA. 

Thanks to advances in reading human DNA, you can find out your true ancestry, your propensity to diseases and even your tendencies toward habits and behaviors.  I knew that decades before the project started in 1998.

My habit is to look, my behavior is to create images and my DNA has f-stops, shutter speeds and focal lengths strewn together in a soup of D-76 and fixer (photographic chemicals for those of you only familiar with digital processes).  Just as comfort and understanding come from reading the results from commercial tests of one's DNA, the same comes to me when I review photographs that I took today or 54 years ago (which is when it started for me) or anything in between. The images reveal a lifetime of visual curiosity, propensity to create images and a quiet appreciation for the beauty in life, no matter what form it takes.  

It is one thing to be comfortable in your own skin; it is quite a bit more to be comfortable in your DNA.  I am blessed for both.

Morning at Walden

Morning at Walden.  My Walden, that is.  My son was hunting, nestled in a blind with a crossbow, so I meandered around a quarter mile away trying to be silent, hunting for images.  The early morning light hit the south bank of the pond and caught my eye.  I'd live there if I could.  

The simple, if not primitive, nature of an under-funded quest to "return to my roots in the country" and my desire to this very rural experience, provides great experiences with labor and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.  The closest town is 14 miles away and has no buildings more than a couple of floors.  The next nearest town is similar, but has a Walmart.  Civilization, I guess, but not my preferred place to go.  I prefer the sole proprietors or smaller businesses that are, or once were, the lifeblood of these communities.

Walden:  my place for rejuvenation, simplicity, creativity.  

I just reviewed my entries to the Terrabella Media call for entries.  The theme was hands.  My five choices displayed nicely on the screen.  And I cried.

Photography does that because it evokes more than images and memories; it goes to my marrow where blood is made and to my soul where beliefs reside and my heart where emotion churn.  When looking at images -- the five for this entry come from 2003, 1004, 2010 and 2016 -- my life of visuals goes by quickly like a flip book.  The connections, old or renewed, remind me of the power of the photographic process as a compliment to the beauty of images.  And when those strong senses of connection grab me, I feel emotions ranging from nostalgia to melancholy, joy to sorrow and most everything else in between.

My love affair with photography has given me a love affair with life.

Push a button.  There you go.  Anyone can take a photograph, and with today's gear, most of the images will be "good."  The art and the magic is in what you see and how you choose to convey that as an image.  It is the seeing, not the taking that matters.

I tell my photography students, "If you want to create better images, close your eyes."  Try it.  Close your eyes and let the rest of your senses feed your inspiration.  The smell of baby shampoo, the feeling of the breeze, the sound of a flag cracking in the wind...  Be open to your senses and image ideas flow.

Click the link on the book below.  You can read the entire thing for free.  I teach a course in this at Houston Center for Photography and other venues.  Learn to see with all your senses, pay attention to the words in your head...it's all in the book....and taking photographs will be secondary.  It is the seeing, not the taking that serves your vision.

I tell people and use in my introduction for speaking engagements, "I was a photographer since six, a writer since 12 and a poet since birth."  Words and images have always played together in my mind and my expression.

Since this blog opportunity is fairly new, I direct you to a project that has been completed for almost six months, "Still, life..."The project involved one photo per day, each taken on the day it was presented (there were a few exceptions among the 365, but you'll see why if you go through the collection). The title is a double entendre, playing on the artistic "still life" and the real message, i.e., despite all that occurs in our day-to-day experiences, there is always...still...life.  I hope you enjoy it.