Monthly Archives: December 2009

Portfolios, Partnerships, and Photography

Procrastination?  That’s part of it.  Tough to make choices?  That’s another part of it.  Lack of objectivity?  Yep, that’s another part of it.  Personal attachment to some images?  No doubt, that’s also part of it.

It’s one of those things that is important to me and important for my photography.  It’s also one of those things that I keep meaning to do and don’t.  What am I talking about?  It’s my portfolio gallery.  To stay fresh and current, I should be taking the time to make sure my portfolio is always up to date.

My portfolio should be a concise representation of my best work.  Assessing photographs is subjective and because the images are mine, I struggle to be objective.  It’s practically impossible for me to know how my images are seen by others.  There should never be any weak work in the portfolio.  Any weak images seriously hurt the overall strength of the portfolio.

In a way I could probably make the argument that my photography is in transition, that I am exploring new areas, new directions.  Honestly, for as long as I am able to make photographs, that should always be a valid description for where I am with my work.  The day we stop exploring new directions, trying new things, growing as artists is basically the end of our creative journey.  When I cease to be stimulated by the opportunity to create an image that interests me, cease to find passion in photography, that’s the day I need to do some serious self evaluation.

My portfolio has become stagnant and probably has too many images.  Part of my challenge is that I am primarily a nature/environmental photographer but I prefer not to have any limits on what subjects I choose to capture with the camera.  The diversity of images has led me to wonder how best to focus my work.  The Dream Hat Photography site was initially started with very little thought to where my photography would lead.  At the time I was simply looking for a place to post some of my images to share with others.  A close friend and fellow photographer suggested SmugMug and it has been a great place for my work to be displayed and be seen by people all over the world.  Through my association with the communities at SmugMug, I have met wonderful people, become friends with people that have helped me more than I can ever say, and I have learned a lot about photography.

You’re right, I have drifted off course.  Consider it value-added content or you can see it as my natural tendency to go down side streets when I am talking and thinking.  That’s just the way I am and have been that way for more years than is relevant in this post.

What’s your point?  My point is that I am going to be working on updating my portfolio and also trying to figure out how best to get my work out there.  If any of you have ideas, suggestions, comments, or questions, I always love input.  Besides the whole “loving input” thing, it’s nice to know if anyone is actually reading any of this.

Since I am inviting input, if you have photography topics you would like for me to write about, please let me know.  If you are interested in exchanging links between blogs and/or photography sites, contact me.  If you happen to be a company that would like to partner with me – Nikon, Epson, Adobe, OnOne, SmugMug, or anyone alse along those lines, I would love to discuss it with you.  At this point, I am a bit like an athlete that has space for sponsors and partners.  You don’t want to look back and think, “We had a shot at building a partnership with Gerry Daniel, his wonderful work with photography, and we totally missed it.”  You never know.

More From the Incident at Turkey Creek, What You Didn’t Know

In the interest of giving you a more complete account of my untimely and unplanned dip into Turkey Creek, I will share some additional details.  This post picks up the story as I am making my way out of the creek and onto the bank beside the creek.

My clothing at the time consisted of a t-shirt, a pair of jeans, wool socks, hiking boots, a jacket, and a baseball cap.  The t-shirt and the baseball cap were both souvenirs of my trip to Santa Fe in February 2009 to attend a week-long workshop taught by Eddie Soloway at Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.  Allow me to pause here to offer my personal endorsement of both the school, the workshop, and Eddie Soloway.  As a bonus, in our workshop, Eddie was assisted by a talented photographer named Jenny Trest.  The workshop was probably by far the best thing I have ever done for me and my photography.  Hopefully I will have an opportunity to attend another workshop there in the future.

So I am out of the creek, soaked to the bone, but never lost the baseball cap.  That part is important for a couple of reasons.  The baseball cap was covering a head of crazy hair that had yet to see a morning shower (yep, morning hair) and the fact that the cap was still on my head meant that I hadn’t banged my noggin into the rocks in the creek during the rescue of the camera equipment.  For a couple of minutes, I just stood there, breathing hard from the exertion and trying to compose myself.

The area where I had planned to be shooting was a fairly short hike down one end of a well marked trail created by Eagle Scouts.  For the people not familiar with the Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scouts are the top echelon of the organization.  They have more skills, patches, badges, etc, and do some very meaningful community service across the United States.  Personally I was not a Boy Scout, I like to say that I was more of a girl scout but not affiliated with the official Girl Scouts of America.  Before anyone gets all bent out of shape, this would have been a period of time when I was in roughly grades 7-12.  To cover the more current time frame, I am not talking about the adult me.  The adult me would be an admirer of women, not that it has any relation to this story but sometimes you get bonus information if you read.

As I stand on the trail, dripping, calming my breathing and my heart rate, as you would expect, one of the first things I dis was look around to see if anyone witnessed what had to be a pretty funny scene of me trying to rescue the camera equipment.  Luckily my unfortunate event ended safely and unobserved, so my dignity was mostly intact.  My camera bag was beside the trail and had escaped the incident entirely.  With the strap of the bag over my shoulder and the camera equipment in my hands, I began the walk of shame back to my car.  Trailing me along the walk was creek water dripping from my clothing and my camera equipment as I trudged back towards the road and the place where my car was parked.

For the people that have had an opportunity to be with me in a situation like this, a situation where I am upset, frustrated, a little angry at myself (OK, a lot angry at myself) not once did I say use any profanity.  Looking back, my only explanation is that the situation exceeded the profanity threshold and I was just silent.  Along the way up the trail, I pass by a happy lady with her point and shoot camera.  She is smiling and snapping away at the beauty that is Turkey Creek.  As I got closer to her, I imagined I would have to exchange some type of pleasantries with her, but she either didn’t notice me or could sense that there was a lot of bad energy walking with me.  If I had been a cartoon, there would have probably been a little swirl of smoke above my head.

Finally I make it off the trail, up the hill, and across the road to the parking lot where my car is parked.  In my pocket is my car keys attached to the remote to unlock the doors and open the trunk.  For the British in the crowd, I believe that what we call the trunk and the hood in the US is sometimes referred to the boot and the bonnet in the UK.  The remote, although soaked, works like a charm.  The trunk opens and I begin to forage.  The ugly truth about my trunk is that is is not neatly organized.  It isn’t organized at all, it is more like a lump of objects scrambled in a somewhat chaotic fashion, but the first little section is basically clean and separated from the chaos by a net.  The clear space is required for groceries when I shop for food and other necessities of life.

Among the contents of the trunk are a pair of jeans, assorted t-shirts, sweatshirts, a beach towel, an old frayed towel (which I call an accident towel), and a pair of running shoes.  There were no socks, no underwear, and no spare belt but at that point I have the essentials.

There is one other vehicle in the parking lot, it is the standard “soccer Mom” van.  As I arrive at the car, the sliding doors on both sides of the van open.  The van is empty but the opening doors signaled the return of the family from the creek.  Typical family, a man, a woman, and three kids (all elementary school age).  Like an eclipse, I didn’t look directly at the van or the approaching family, I caught them in my peripheral vision.  Since we are the only two vehicle there, there is no question that they saw me standing at the rear of my car, looking into the trunk, dripping water on the ground.  The make and model of the van were undetermined, I couldn’t tell you if there were soccer balls on the rear window with the names of the kids.  It was full eclipse mode, no looking at the van.

The jeans were pulled to the edge of the trunk, the t-shirt happened to be a environmentally friendly clay dyed garment with a drawing of the earth and surrounded by “Every Day Is Earth Day” printed on the front and the t-shirt color was a soft, light green for those of you that need details.  The family is getting to the van, lots of happy chatter and they are ignoring the dripping wet man standing by the open trunk of his car.  My feet are wet and I remove the hiking boots, pour the water from them, then remove the wool socks, and squeeze the excess water from them.  It was at that point that I became keenly aware that the parking lot was covered with gravel.  Keenly aware because my cold, wet, bare feet were being assaulted by the sharp edges of the gravel.

Slowly I walk around to the passenger door on the driver’s side of my car and open it.  The idea was to take my time to walk carefully on the gravel and to allow the family time to load into the van and be on their merry way.  I take the accident towel, fold it several times for maximum absorbency to protect the fabric on the car seat and sit down.  I change into the dry t-shirt, slowly of course, again partially to allow more time for the family to leave but partly because wet clothing sticks to your body.  With the t-shirt changed, the top half of my body is dry (remember I had the beach towel).  The careful reader has already figured out my problem and the reason I wanted the family to leave.  At some point I am going to need to change out of the wet jeans and boxer shorts to put on the dry jeans (no underwear,
will have to go commando).

The last thing I need at this point is to be accused of indecent exposure by some family out enjoying the nature preserve on a Sunday afternoon after Thanksgiving.  So I wait…and I wait.  Who are these people and why does it take them so long to get in the van, buckle up and leave?  Only snatches of their conversation was audible, but I heard something about something being left by the creek and heard the Dad say he would go get it.  It wasn’t a large distance to cover, the man could have been there and back in a matter of minutes.  This day wasn’t going that way, so they only way I can describe the slowness of the man’s walk to get the item left at the creek and return to the van is to use the grocery store example.  Sometimes, you will be in line at the checkout, there will be an issue with an item in the group of things the person ahead of you is purchasing (maybe there is no bar code, maybe the package is damaged, whatever).  The person at the register will enlist one of the other employees hanging out at the end of the checkout line (sometimes the bagger, sometimes just an employee talking and wasting time) to go determine the price or get a replacement item.  My experience has been that the person assigned to go on the mission shifts into a slow motion walk that is almost impossible to achieve in normal life.  They almost occupy a slightly dimension where time is moving at a different speed.

Sitting on the edge of my back seat, I wasn’t timing the man on his trip, but I can tell you it was a very slow walk.  Maybe he needed a moment to himself, maybe he needed to gather his thoughts before being confined to the van with the rest of his crowd.  Finally he returns and I think I am now home free.  He will get into the driver seat, the doors will shut, he will start the engine and they will be on their way.  No, I was wrong.  As he gets back to the van, I hear the Mom ask if anyone needs to go potty.  Thankfully nobody needed to go potty, but there was a process of elimination as each child is questioned individually about their need to go potty.  Yeah, it took a long time.  Items retrieved from the creek?  Check.  Nobody needs to go potty?  Check.  For reasons I can’t begin to understand or explain, nobody was buckled in their seats and ready to go.  So now we go through the process of situating everyone in the van and securing them to their seats.  Did I mention that these people were slow?

Finally, mercifully, the van doors close, the engine starts, and they pull out of the parking lot.  As soon as they are out of sight, I close the door on my car, unbuckle my jeans, unzip them and take them off along with the boxers.  Remember, it takes longer with wet clothing, it sticks to your body.  Now I am in the danger zone, pants down to my ankles, about to pull them over my feet, I will be exposed and naked from the waist down.  Not a problem, the parking lot is empty, I am alone.  Just as I slip the pants leg off of one foot, I hear a vehicle.  This is the point of non return, I have to continue.  Another van pulls into the parking lot, politely leaving one car space between the vehicles.  It’s a guy and his dog which he immediately lets bound from the car, no leash.  My options are limited, I am committed to the change, I am contorted in the back seat as I get the other pants leg off my other foot and put on the dry jeans.  The guy in the van is putting the leash on his dog but I can feel him glancing my way and wondering what I am doing in the back seat of my car alone.  Still in eclipse mode, I don’t look at him, I finish changing, put on the running shoes, move to the driver’s seat and make my getaway.

Funny scene?  No doubt about it.  Maybe one of the funniest scenes I have been in for years.  Life is full of moments, that’s what you hang onto, what you remember.  It is why I love photography, capturing moments.  Until Nikon resolves the issue with my camera, the experience wasn’t a loss.  Underwear and socks will now be added to the chaos in my trunk.  It also gives me time to devise a better way to change clothes if there is ever a next time.

Enjoy the moments, it’s what life is about.