Photojournalism }

walking in the light: a life in photography

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Natural State

I must confess that until my brother and sister-in-law built a cabin in the mountains around Jasper, Arkansas, I was not a fan of the Ozarks. Compared to the peaks, valleys, and vistas of the West, the Ozark mountains, I thought, just did not measure up. I have changed that view over the last several years, and this past weekend, finally put that old vision to rest for good.

Bob and I spent several glorious days shooting in the National Forest areas around Jasper, Ponca, and the Buffalo River. He was the expert guide and I the lumbering photographer with equipment packed into a backpack along with water and granola bars. The hikes were a test; the views inspiring. Even back in the woods with clouds and drizzle on Friday, the remote waterfalls took us to the source of something that tested my vision and my skills. I tried mightily to do justice to the nature before me. The next several months of work will bear witness to my success or failure. On Saturday, the sun was brilliant, the colors bold, and our legs a bit more wobbly than the day before. Truth be told, I was not sure about our hike to Hawksbill Crag, an iconic bit of Arkansas rock that is probably the most photographed piece of landscape in the state. Did I really want to shoot such a recognizable piece of real estate? I am glad I did. Whether my photos reflect it, Hawksbill must be experienced, and the hike with Bob was one of those experiences we will talk about for years. We had hiked in at dawn with one other car parked along the road. By the time we got back, there were 17 cars scattered around the trail head.

Arkansas is no Dogpatch, USA. In fact, a shooter would be hard-pressed to find a better place to shoot. As Ansel Adams used to say, that's just a Place with a capital P.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Several thoughts today:

We have been working on a Gallery show and sale here in our barn at Windhover. Friends Kathy and Carl will be showing their pottery and woodcarving, respectively. I am working on a variety of Platte County photos and photos from out West. Nov. 14 and 15 are the dates for the first of what may be several shows a year.

When I need inspiration for my shooting, I crank up the old video I have from Jim Richardson entitled “A Wide Spot in the Road,” which I saw again just yesterday. It is a video of his still photos and words about small town Kansas--mostly Cuba, Ks. which he made famous some 30 years ago when he was doing newspaper work and more recently in the pages of “National Geographic.” I used to show the video when my students were getting ready to go shoot a small town for our Heartland Photojournalism Project or at summer photo workshops. Richardson's photos are prime examples of documentary photojournalism and help keep alive the memory of what small town life can be all about. His photos make me want to be a better shooter, but also they remind me of the importance of the small moments of each day. Live in the moment, they seem to say.

And, finally, I was saddened to hear of the death of Ival Lawhon, just weeks before his induction into the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame. The ceremony is in two days and will be poignant without Ival being there. In his early 60's Ival was an example of what a shooter can do if he works at getting better as he ages. Ival's work was as good at the end of his career as it was at any time in his life. I admire him.