nothing like ordinary

Life is busy right now and it’s tempting to put my camera aside. It’s an interesting phenomenon how we sometimes stop doing the very things that can help us most when life becomes stressful. In times of transition or struggle, I am tempted to stop exercising; more likely to eat out rather than prepare a healthy home-cooked meal; less apt to make time for my photography; more prone to overwork and over worry.

And none of this helps at all.

Our youngest son, Jacob, will begin his adult work life in the next few weeks, a fellowship program at the William & Mary library.  We’ll help him move out of our home next weekend and into his very own apartment. These are big changes with big emotions attached.

While we wait . . . we share small moments of connection . . . where each moment is nothing like ordinary.

Mastery sneaks up on you over time. Remember that staying on the path of learning is the goal.
— David Ulrich, Zen Camera

more signs of the times

Signs of the Times is a fun project. It’s been a relief to let loose.

It’s been a relief to take a break from the pressure of taking pictures of people and places, where my camera and I are sometimes viewed as an intrusion, a threat, or an annoyance.

When I take pictures of these iconic signs, everyone gets it. They stop to talk to me about what these places mean to them, about their memories, and about how hard it can be to change and let go.

  C.F. Sauer Company  | 2200 W Broad Street | Richmond, VA

C.F. Sauer Company | 2200 W Broad Street | Richmond, VA

Sauers_Flavoring_Extracts_0009.jpg

It’s been a relief to revel in the sunshine. August is hot, and often the bright sun makes colors wash out. It can be a challenge to photograph with so much contrast. But with these pictures of signs high atop buildings, the contrast strengthens the photograph. I can shoot with great depth of field (ISO 100, f 16) and still get shutter speeds that yield sharpness. I can allow the colors their vibrancy or strip the color entirely so that the sculpture speaks in lines and shapes alone.

  Famous Foods of Virginia  | W Broad Street | Richmond, VA

Famous Foods of Virginia | W Broad Street | Richmond, VA

It’s been a relief to look up. Often I struggle with lens distortion and issues of perspective. Which line to make straight? Angle or head on? But with these pictures, that’s the whole point. To make a picture that gives the viewer the sense of looking up—at the wondrous signs, at their bigness, at the vastness of the sky, and the smallness of our little bodies attached to the earth.

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It's been a relief to make pictures that feel so good.

Hope. And frozen custard.

Old hotels. And vanilla extract.

Makers of Girl Scout cookies and the white bread of my youth.

Barbeque joints and roadside diners.

Lucky's

Today presented me with a first.

For all the times I have ventured to ask if I might take a person’s portrait, today was the first time someone volunteered to give me the portrait.

I was standing on Meadow Street in Richmond in the morning sun of an already hot day, taking a picture of Lucky’s Bicycles.

I lowered the camera to adjust the settings and just like that he pulled up in his car. He rolled down his window and called out, “Take my picture!” With an all-out smile and Ta-Da hands, he paused the car and struck a pose.  

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Two clicks later, he was on his way, waving and shouting, “Welcome to Richmond!”

I was dumbfounded. It's been a long while since anyone gave me something so freely. No expectation. No cost. Just a straight-up gift.

Lucky me in front of Lucky's Bicycles.