Category Archives: Eddie Soloway

rave on



On February 14th, 2009, I arrived in Santa Fe for a week-long workshop on landscape photography at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops campus, taught by Eddie Soloway.  The workshop was a wonderful experience and the facilities are both beautiful and first class.  The experience in Santa Fe deserves a separate post.  It had a profound impact on my approach to photography.

Today, one year later as I write this post, it is interesting to take a look back at the past 365 days.  One lap around the sun brought many changes to my life.  The sum of those changes are weighted towards the positive.  It would be tedious to get into the details.  You can breathe easy, I am not going to get into the journey at that level.  To try and prevent losing subscribers by boring them to death, I will just hit a few of the bigger events.  The funny thing about the bigger events is that they didn’t take place in isolation.  A series of moments, some interesting, some mundane, some happy, and some sad are the elements of any lap around the sun.  As a photographer I have the gift of capturing some of my moments with a camera, freezing and preserving them.

From the day when I arrived in Santa Fe last year to today, the following is a short list of highlights and lowlights.  As mentioned, the week in Santa Fe will get its own post at some point, it was an experience that will stay with me for a lifetime.  Almost one month to the day after arriving in Santa Fe, I was “downsized” from a job I had help for nine years.  Unfortunately it was an experience I shared with many people all over the United States.  At the end of April, I became a grandfather for the first time to a beautiful baby girl born to my oldest son and his wife.  So many people have asked me some version of , “What’s it like to be a grandfather?”  It still amuses me that I am the father of three sons, so adding another level is more amusing.

Sidebar: If you don’t know me, you very well might misinterpret what I mean by being amused about being a father.  I have three of the most incredible sons anyone could ask for, I have tried very hard to be a good Dad, but I am still me and it’s my nature to laugh about life.  Clearly it’s more complicated than that but you know that.

In June, my middle son got married to a wonderful girl/woman.  They are happy and doing well.  My youngest son is attending college and doing well.  In the grand scheme of things, I lost a job of nine years but have much to be happy about.

My search for another job was an interesting journey that resulted in me deciding to pursue photography as a career.  The bubble wrap is barely off that decision, so it’s too early to tell how it will go.  In the course of seeking a job in my former career path (my degree and the last 15 years of my life had been spent in information technology) I met some wonderful people.  One of those people is Tina Westbrook who is a talented photographer.  She is also a talented writer with a major book release coming up next month for “Letters from Alcatraz, Forty Years Later” which is her first book that is not about photography.  It’s going to be a huge success and she has asked me to photograph the events surrounding the release of the book.  Tina also writes a blog (Eastcreek Photography, Where Thoughts and Images Collide) which I recommend.

In addition to Tina, a very good friend of mine introduced me to another talented nature/conservation photographer, Beth Maynor Young.  Beth invited me to the initial meeting for a group called Conservation Photographers of Alabama and I am honored to have a chance to contribute through my photography.  It’s an important cause and close to my heart.  Beth took an interest in my photography and I appreciate her help more than I can say.

Over the past year, I have become friends with a successful and talented fashion photographer in Los Angeles, Melissa Rodwell.  Clearly Melissa and I are in different areas of photography but I have learned a lot from her and appreciate her support and encouragement.  Melissa writes a blog that I recommend to anyone interested in photography (Fashion Photography Blog).  She is a tremendous resource ad a wonderful person.

Over the past year I have photographed many beautiful locations, including parts of New Mexico as well as the natural beauty in my home State of Alabama.  The locations in Alabama  featured Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, Perry Lakes Park, and Ebenezer Swamp.

In December I published my first book that features a collection of my photographs of water lilies.  You can see it and buy it here (“a collection of water lilies, part one” by Gerry Daniel).  As I write the post today, the Dream Hat Photography Blog has been revamped and relocated to its own domain.  The new website for my professional work (Gerry Daniel Photography) has been created, is live, and is not complete, but it should always be evolving.  Last week I sent out my first newsletter.  In a moment of shameless promotion, please subscribe to my blog, my newsletter, and recruit others to subscribe.  It would help me very much to expand my subscriber base.

The span of a year included the support and encouragement of so many people in my life.  The group includes my inner circle of friends, my family, and my friends from SmugMug.  My thanks to each one of you for being a part of the continuing saga of Gerry.  Traveling along my road is not always the well traveled path and I have been known to wander.  I’m lucky that some have chosen to take the chance and be a part of the ride.

What about the next 365 days?  Hopefully I can carry the positive momentum forward and follow my dream of being successful with my photography.  My work needs wider exposure and I am looking for opportunities to exhibit my photographs.

Of course, there is always the blog post music selection.  The song is “Rave On, feat. Zooey Deschanel” from the album “Hold Time” by M. Ward.  It’s a great cover of a Buddy Holly song, listen to it, you’ll be glad you did.

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.