Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dolphin Days of Summer!

It's been awhile since my last post. Summer can be a busy time for a photographer and that is an understatement. But you also have to take time out for family and the first week of August was incredible! A week at Corolla Beach, NC with 25 family and friends all in the same house! WOW!! I was up most days before the sun crested the horizon and was on the beach with my camera(s). The image I posted here I call "Dolphin Days of Summer" because it was the one day I saw dolphins from the beach at sunrise. All total I took over 2,000 images and yes, I'm still going through them trying to pick the best. A lot were family, some were posed, some were candid, many were sunrises or sunsets. Corolla is on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, just south of the Virginia border. The Atlantic Ocean is on the east side and Currituck Sound is on the west side, in places only a few hundred yards apart. Currituck Beach Lighthouse was also a subject in many of my images. Corolla is unique because the road was only paved in 1985, so much of the area is relatively newly developed. The beach was clean, the water clear, the patrons well behaved and all in all it was a wonderful vacation.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Group photographs document children's activities

For the past five weeks I have been venturing west each Monday afternoon. An hour from my home is the Boy Scout's Camp Buck Toms, a 700-acre paradise on Watts Bar Lake near Rockwood, Tennessee. On Sunday afternoons a new corps of Scouts check-in for a week long summer camp experience. Most weeks average 400-500 Scouts, traveling from across East Tennessee but often including troops from as far away as Texas, Florida, Ohio and similar states roughly a days drive away. I have been a member of the Boy Scouts myself for more than forty years, and this ritual is not new for me. I served as a commissioned professional with the Boy Scouts for 32 years during my first career. Now I get to slow down a bit and document the fun that others are having, no longer shouldering the responsibility of being a Camp Director as I had many summers past.

Camp Buck Toms, according to some who have been attending for 25+ years, has not offered "Troop pictures". We changed that this year and it's been fun! We'll promote it more next year and hopefully get a greater response. I can't complain though because many troops did take advantage of the opportunity which made it worth my time and effort, even with today's gas prices. The Scoutmasters were able to pre-pay for print orders that I had delivered to the camp before the week ended. I also uploaded the images to my online gallery so they could be shared with family members in far off places. It has worked well both ways, with lots of pre-paid orders and a steady stream of online orders have followed each week's session.

One aspect the Camp Director and I talked about early on was how to identify the Troop in the photograph. At prior camps I have attended or served as Camp Director, the photographer would have a static sign with the camp name and session date, and the troop numerals would slide into plastic holders. It worked alright but the more I thought about the difficulty in painting a sign, finding numerals in proper quantity etc. the more I thought hmmm, there has to be a better way. Duh! We now live in the digital age when everything is easier! I asked the Camp Director for the camp patch. With my scanner I made short work of setting up the 'graphics' required to identify each troop. Everyone seems to be happy with the result and we're already planning promotions for next year.

As a side note to this, while working for the Great Smoky Mountain Council, Boy Scouts of America, I had the privilege to serve as staff adviser to an event held in April, 2003. It was a reunion for former campers and Camp Staff who attended or served at Camp Pellissippi on Norris Lake. Camp Pellissippi pre-dated Camp Buck Toms as the summer camp facility from 1936 until 1977 when the dining hall burned. At that time all summer camp operations were permanently moved to Camp Buck Toms. During planning sessions leading up to the reunion, someone forwarded to me a copy of a photograph of the 1958 Camp Pellissippi staff. Among those lined up and smiling was Eagle Scout and former Tennessee Governor, past President of the University of Tennessee, former U.S. Secretary of Education and now U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. His mother had saved that picture all those many years and passed a copy along to share.

I hope two things come from this summer: 1) I hope another Governor, Senator or great civic leader will emerge from the ranks of our Scouts who attended Camp Buck Toms and 2) I hope lots of mothers cherish the photographs I took of their sons.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Respect for client's wishes

I photographed a wedding in late June. She was a beautiful bride, the groom a handsome young man and the family was very friendly and cordial. It was a great day! The photos turned out very well, in spite of the challenge of shooting outdoors in bright sun with a mid-day ceremony. The venue was a private home and the 2nd challenge for me as a photographer, was abiding by the wishes of the client, that their photographs would remain private as well. Ouch! What does any wedding photographer want to do after a beautiful wedding? Show off his work of course! But when it comes to a paying client, the first rule of any retail operation is "the customer is always right".

I also understand that some people want privacy in their lives. Think about all the reality shows on television today, the various means of "identity theft" that have us all worried about our personal security. It's a different world today than when I was the age of this young couple. I certainly respect their wishes, so you won't see their happy faces grace this blog, my online gallery or my website. They are presently viewing their images through my online gallery, but it is set to "private" so the general public who might try to see their images won't even realize the gallery exists. It's cool that in this new age of technology, anything is possible. They're happy with my work and that's all that matters. Another beautiful bride, another happy client!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A favorite of mine - Gardens

This link takes you to my online gallery and a series of photographs I took in April. Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania is an incredible place to visit. Being able to photograph the experience and bring back images of the many wonders God allows us to enjoy in nature never ceases to amaze me.

In Knoxville I try to visit the University of Tennessee Gardens on Neyland Drive several times a year. This past Saturday was a good day to make a summer stop. The floral display is just incredible with Purple Cone Flower, 'Blushing Bride' Hydrangea, and mass beds of Petunias. The only thing missing is the aroma that you enjoy when taking a walk through the gardens.

Always a favorite of mine, I love to photograph in gardens. UT Gardens is also a very nice venue for weddings and an exceptional place for a formal bridal portrait. I hope to see you there on the other end of my lens some day soon!

Friday, June 20, 2008

What is the value of a portrait to a family?

As my photography career has developed, I have gained a new appreciation for the importance portraits and photographs have for a family. When a family loses a loved one, the importance of that image is magnified exponentially. If you watch the television news after any kind of unfortunate incident, what is one of the first things that appears in the newscast? A photograph of the person or persons involved. As a photographer, I have already captured the final image of two individuals, that I am aware of. That is heady stuff!

As a photographer "doing my job" at a wedding, I realize the responsibility I have to photograph the wedding party, the guests, the friends and relatives........mmmm, the relatives? Grandparents are such an important part of every family, for so many reasons, so I try to be sure to always include the grandparents in as many images as I can. After photographing Mollie's wedding in September 2007, and then her sister's (shown below in my first post) eight months later, I was told just before Maisie's May 24 wedding that "granddad is no longer with us". Thankfully they have many quality images of 'Granddad' from the September wedding.

I witnessed a similar occurrence attending a wedding in August 2001 (though not as the photographer). A first cousin of the groom was killed less than a month later in the World Trade Center. I had noticed his wife, who was radiantly beautiful in a black sequined gown showing her 6th month of pregnancy, and commented about her to my own wife. After 9/11 we heard about this young mother's loss. We never know what the future may hold for us and who we're photographing. My responsibility to 'capture the moment' is huge, not only for the bride, but for the entire family.

All of this may seem a bit morbid, and I apologize if it strikes you that way, but it is a reality of life. Portraits and photographs of all our precious loved ones are so important today. This hit home with me through a couple of incidents this year.

In January my wife received a phone call early one morning, the kind we never want to receive. One of her three sisters had been tragically killed in a traffic accident. We called our three children, who all live away from home and they returned to attend the funeral. The morning of the funeral, before we left for the drive to Rogersville, we decided to take a family portrait, as we had not done so in many years. I also took a group portrait of my 3 children. A copy is posted with this blog. I could not be more proud as a father of the lives they are living, the talent and accomplishments that makes up each of my children. This photograph means so much to me!

The second goes back to the TV news and the tragic loss of life at the Little Sioux Scout Camp in Iowa, earlier this month. One family was so proud of their young son and his accomplishments as a Boy Scout, that they submitted a photograph before the media had even released his name. He looked so mature, standing all polished and rigid in his Scout uniform, having been photographed at a recent Court of Honor after earning a new Scout rank. That photograph means everything to his family and they wanted the world to know that they were proud of their son!

My point in saying all this....if you haven't taken a family portrait or portraits of your children recently, you should do so. Don't wait for the next wedding or funeral in your family to gather the ones you love so dearly and take their picture. A family portrait, taken by a professional photographer should be a cherished keepsake in every family. Make your appointment today.

Monday, May 26, 2008

May 24 Wedding of Maisie and Brian

This is my first blog entry and what a joy to share a little about my Memorial Day weekend. I had the privilege to travel to Athens, Georgia to photograph the wedding of Maisie Anderson and Dr. Brian Frost. For the first time, my daughter Chelsea served as my assistant, and though a bit nervous, she did a marvelous job. I have now photographed a destination wedding with each of my two daughters serving as an assistant. Great fun!

The ceremony was held at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, which was a gorgeous venue on a simply beautiful day. Speaking of beautiful, the bride was every bit as stunning as her surroundings. It was a great day!

The thing that made this wedding special was the fact that it was my second time working with the bride's family. I first met the Andersons last fall when I photographed the wedding of Maisie's sister Mollie. It's very gratifying as a photographer to be entrusted with such a special day, not only by one but both daughters within a family. It was a great weekend and fun to work with friends. Thank you Teresa and Victor for allowing me to document another special day in the life of the Anderson family!

I'm spending this Memorial Day Monday slowly going through the images from Saturday and picking out the best to share with the Anderson and Frost families. I also want to take time to say thank you and pay proper respect to our service men and women who have served and continue to serve our great country. The freedoms we all are blessed with are not to be taken lightly. Thank you all, men and women of our Armed Forces!