April 05, 2016

Life and Death

National Geographic has an online photo community and they give out 'assignments' based on stories they are going to publish online.  The assignment right now is 'When Death Comes.'  Photographers--amateurs or professionals alike, submit their photos and everyday their editors go through them giving recognition to the best of the best.

While I am very much an amateur, I enjoy these assignments immensely.  For starters, I am better with deadlines.  Second, I really enjoy having an intention behind the photos I shoot.  Photography, for me, is a creative outlet-- another form of expression.  But with an assignment, there is a mindfulness about what you're shooting.  I like the artistic challenge in that.  And finally, I just enjoy the community because it's quite amazing to see what gorgeous and meaningful work people do.  To see good work, is a learning experience, for sure.

I had already submitted my photo.  I wasn't too excited about the assignment because, in general, I don't think of Mazama as a place that reminds me of death or the afterlife.  We had just finished an assignment on the equinox, the death of winter to spring, so I didn't want to go that route.  I had already been in a death/life metaphorical Easter state of mind.  I just didn't feel like shooting with the same intention.  

So yesterday, Lliam, The Small Dog and I headed to Chelan to pick up my new glasses (oh my god, THRILLED), and we ran 1,000 errands in the process.  On our way to pay the electric bill, we passed these crosses.  I had seen them once or twice before but completely forgot they were there. 

Apparently, a night ago years back, a car was driving slowly on the road due to ice. A car behind them got impatient and tried to pass.  Going too quickly, there was some kind of accident that resulted in the death of at least one high school aged girl.  Lliam wasn't sure of the whole story but it got me thinking about the way we pay homage to these deaths on the side of the road.

I remember driving to Nevada City (?), there was-- quite frankly, the creepiest grave I passed on the side of the road.  It was for a toddler born in the 1900's. I can't remember why but it was totally random and had nothing to do with a car accident. For whatever reason, someone built a crib there and people still bring dolls and toys to this grave.  Everything was wet and covered in dirt and mildew.  It looked like a romper room nightmare.  Needless to say, I wish I had my camera then!

At some point, I'm going to have to learn to 'kill' my own babies.  They use this term in photography when people get too sentimental about their work and can't say goodbye to clearly inferior photos. Or, when you have to play Meryl to your four kids and 'Sophie's Choice' them.  I've got four pictures of crosses here... which one do I post?  For now, all of them.  Ha!

I like and dislike all of them for a reason.  One is the most boring to me.  I wish the lighting was more interesting in four... Anyway,  I look forward to being good enough to know which shot is the best shot.  But regardless, it's just an honor to hear the story and to do my best to tell it, even with the very little time I had.

Today I'm posting pictures because I have 12,000 things to do.  I have to order flowers, set up an appointment for dress alterations, start wedding favors, start freezing wedding desserts, etc, etc, etc...
I am definitely mindful about not making the wedding something to 'get through.'  I would hate to feel that way.  But I do look forward to the rest of the summer when all I have to do is water my garden and learn Photoshop.  Ha!  Anyway... I'm allowing myself blog time because there needs to be balance.  I'm working on finding the balance in each day.  Work, play, spirit, etc.  It's all outta whack, man.

I have dreams of grandeur where I hike down 153 for a month and take pictures of rural America.  There are soooo many interesting things to see on the way!  There's never anywhere to pull over when I am by myself, such a bummer.  Lliam was with me on this trip to Chelan... so he let me take a FEW.  He just needs to understand that being my chauffeur for a day, letting me hop out wherever I want, would probably be the most fun he's every had in his life!!  ... A girl can dream. 

Speaking of!  Look at these two... 
I love them.
They are my family and fill me with so much!!!

I've also been reading about finding your voice as a photographer.  I'm intrigued the more I practise, as the years pass, what 'voice' I will have... I would love for someone to one day see a photo and know it was mine, but I would hate to be confined to having my photos look a certain way.  There are so many instagram photographers and people on EyeEm with huge followings that use the same app or filter throughout all of their photos and while they might be beautiful, or be 'commercial,' it would absolutely bore me!   

I think my goal will always be to have my pictures turn out in camera/onscreen/as prints what I see them to be with my eyes and heart.  For my intention as a creative to be the finished product.  Then, whatever voice-- Blake, Christina... whoever!  That's fine.  lol

I do like shooting windows & reflections, tho.  Ha!

Look at that ridiculous dog!!!
She's such a goober.
Mommy loves her Sadie soooooo much!!!

And there's daddy!  He's such a good sport.
"Are we pulling over so you can take a picture?"
"All right, this time I'm letting the dog out."
"We're never getting home, are we?"

I don't know what the heck this thing is... It looks like an old bridge but even in perfect condition with handrails, how would you walk on it???  Badminton net for kayakers??? A clothesline for white water rafters?  I don't know... Anyway, it creeps me out.  Reminds me of a movie adventure I don't want to be on- ha!

And finally... This is a picture of an old deserted burger joint in Twisp. The sun was setting and Lliam wasn't driving... so I did a u-turn and quick snapped it.  Now if I had more time...  ;)

He's such a good sport, my honey.

Thanks for listening.  :)


Anonymous said...

It is good to see that your photography is enabling you to be present and introspective in these moments. Death, for me, is a more difficult experience. I held my father's hand when he died, I found my 19 year old cats body on a thanksgiving morning six months later, I held my mother's hand when she died and had to have my 12 year old dog euthanized 5 months after that. Death for me is lonely. It's watching the things I love most in life fade away and knowing that unless someone has been threw it, they will never fully understand. So, I don't talk about it too much because I don't want to bum people out. We have a lot of road side crosses here, too. Or sticker memorials on the backs of cars. I always look at the dates to see how old they were. How much of a life they got to live, if they actually got to live it. If they got out of the car every once in a while to take pictures and look around.

MandiCrocker said...

Wow, thank you for sharing!!! I think you nailed it... Part of the reason is my inexperience with it, not knowing how to relate without feeling a sense of superficiality. I'm grateful to not know, truth be told. Thank you for sharing your experience... I hope you share it more. That's what I love ultimately about photography, the commonality within us all. I may not know death... But I know human-ness. And broken. And I appreciate so much hearing from another human being about it. Because one day I will relate. That's just life. I've been lucky. I truly hope more life, after these losses, has presented itself and found ways to help mend that loneliness. Thank you again... I'm going to be thinking about what you said for some time...