Archive for the ‘The Challenge’ Category

Well here I am with my beautiful bride on day 31 of my photoblog challenge. Towards the end of June, I was at Amy James’ home visiting with my friend Bobby Harris. I explained to Bobby that I had sold all of my camera equipment and was taking a hiatus from photography for many reasons. Besides needing the money, taking pictures simply had stopped being fun. I told him that there was simply too much emotion wrapped up and that I was just a “tormented artist.” Bobby looked at me with a scowl and said that was all BS and that he was pissed off at me. I was perplexed to say the least.

A few minutes after the initial exchange Bobby challenged me to take a photo a day for one month and blog about it. Initially, I dismissed this idea because I had taken thousands of photos and what could a few snap shots per day really matter? A week or so later, I decided to accept Bobby’s challenge as I had been missing taking pictures. So my month long journey began and I cannot thank Bobby enough for kicking me in the ass and making me do it. You are welcome to browse the daily photos to see what I captured during July so there is no need to rehash each day, but looking back I can honestly say that it made all the difference in me as an artist.

Before I engaged in this challenge I was always so focused on the technical details of the picture I did not appreciate simply taking photos and seeing the art come out of them. Instead of shooting with thousands of dollars worth of equipment, all of these photos were taken with an inexpensive compact camera and a little help from post processing. I learned to appreciate the randomness that accompanies simply snapping images and seeing what happens. I learned to tear down the ideological boundaries that traditional photography place on art. I learned to take photos for my pleasure and for my art rather than for others approval.

I am not sure where my photography will go in the future. I do not know if I will ever become a professional or serious photographer, but I am a photographer and a good one. I can be a professional if I chose and I know I have the skills and talents to do so. I know that I am my own worst critic and that I need to work on accepting the outcome for what it is: ART!


One of the more important decisions I took part in during my time as a pageant director involved a dear friend Jordan Johannsen. A few years ago when Jordan was our titleholder, she lived and went to school in Arkansas. Jordan was on the Pom Squad and was a Hog through and through. It was a good thing that her blood was already red because she bleed red to the core. After her first year with us, Jordan committed herself to someday becoming Miss Texas, but had a to decide if she could do that living in Arkansas. Jordan sought counsel from many people and Alex and I were honored that she sought ours as well. I remember telling Jordan that this would be perhaps the most significant decision of her life to date because if she left Arkansas and came home, the course of her life would be changed forever.

As you may know, Jordan did decide to leave Arkansas and become a Horned Frog at T.C.U. Today, Jordan is VERY close to becoming Miss Texas and I have no doubt she will work to fulfill that dream as a proud Horned Frog, but I also know there will always be a little Hog in Jordan Johannsen. If you are ever fortunate enough to play even a very small role in counseling someone about such a huge decision, remember that what you tell them will in some way influence their decision and always take that responsibility seriously. I feel very fortunate for the years spent with Jordan as Miss Ellis County and Miss Irving and I also an very lucky to have her as one of my “secret daughters”.

What is water? Water is many things to many people. For all of us water is the giver of life, the medium of survival or a harbinger of death. This image is a rather boring picture of me watering my front lawn spiced up with some post processing. Frankly, today’s picture of the day is my laziest attempt yet at simply putting something on a page. But what is water? Billions of people all over the world would look at this image and think how perverse it is to waste drinkable water on a lawn. How vain is it to care about how one’s lawn looks when people the world over are literally dying for a drink of clean water? The sad truth is that life is relative. Is watering my lawn essential? The answer is both yes and no. Cosmetically the answer is no, my life will be no different if my yard is brown grass and dirt. On the other hand, if I do not water my lawn, the ground dries up which affects my foundation possibly causing it to shift or crack which can fundamentally affect my life. People living in Haiti might wish they simply had a house with a foundation cracked all to hell to shelter their children, yet for me a cracked foundation is a fear of crisis proportions. All life is relative and in America we live a relatively great and rich lifestyle so we have little appreciation for things like clean water. So little in fact we, I included, simply waster by watering our lawns and allowing the runoff to flow down the streets into the sewers. Water is the giver of life, the sustainer of humanity and yet we treat it as the most worthless and abundant liquid around. All life is relative!

I am going to keep today’s post fairly short. This morning I received a bottle of Heartbreaking Dawn’s 1498 Trinidad Scorpion hot sauce. The Trinidad Scorpion is currently the hottest pepper on Earth and this sauce is a scrumptious mixture of Scorpions and other ingredients. Growing peppers and becoming a “chilihead” has been quote therapeutic for me. Since the late winter, Alex and I have poured alot of love into our little chili pepper garden and I am hopeful that this fall we will see the fruits of our labor. Doing anything in life is so much more enjoyable when I do it with be beautiful bride and pepper gardening has been no exception. Between peppers, photography, guitar, Boston Terriers, Bulls and the normal day to day living, I have been keeping busy which has been a huge help in overcoming my OCD. If you like hot things, try this sauce and hit me up in the fall to see how the harvest goes!

Today as I was thinking about my daily photo, especially in light of the fact that I skipped yesterday, I ran across the Cavanaugh Flight Museum again. I posted a few nighttime images a week or so ago, but went back today and captured a few shots. The included image is the nose cone of a Russian Mig (short for Mikoyan Gurevich) 17 sitting next to a United States Air Force Reserve Republic F-105F Thunderchief. Both of these aircraft saw service during the Vietnam War and were often adversaries over the skies of Vietnam, but that is not the story I want to tell.
As I snapped a few photos of the Mig, I thought about the news article I read yesterday reporting that a Russian agent was linked to the US Embassy bombing overseas. Thinking first about the article taking me back to my youth and seeing the Russian fighter reminded me of just how frightening the Cold War truly was. Most people under the age of 25 today have little to no memory of the Cold War and living daily with the threat of nuclear annihilation but I do. I can remember the 1980s and hearing President Reagan label the U.S.S.R. an evil empire and watch the enormous buildup of thousands of massive nuclear weapons on both sides. I remember hearing the Strategic Air Command Boeing B-52 bombers and KC-135 tankers take off night and day from Carswell Air Force Base wondering if it was just another drill or the real thing. It may seem absurd to sit around wondering when the bombs would fall, but for most of us it was a foregone conclusion that someday they would come, until the wall came down.
I will never forget witnessing the collapse of the Soviet Empire in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was as if the world had finally awakened from a deep and horrible nightmare and we could all breathe a little easier. There were concerns about the safety and security of the massive Soviet nuclear arsenal, but that was miniscule compared to the daily anxiety caused by the ever present threat of Mutually Assured Destruction. Looking back it truly is a wonder that by some twist of fate, moment of passion or just plain act of madness the human race did not decimate itself. To this day, I still wonder if God himself controlled the Cold War years more closely than any other in human history.
Seeing the Red Russian Star on the side of the Mig-17 simply brought back a flood of memories from my youth. I will never forget asking my father if a nuclear war was going to happen and him not being able to assure me the answer was no. Today we live in fear of terrorism, and to be sure there is much to fear, but currently no terrorists possess the ability to remove most of the human race from planet Earth within a few hours, and make our species extinct within months. Let us hope that the sort of misinformation, paranoia, distrust and madness that accompanied the Cold War never surfaces again.

Camp (oops Napp)er Allie!!

Posted: July 20, 2011 in Allie, The Challenge

Today I was fortunate enough to spend some time at Cancer Care Service’s 2011 Camp Care. Camp Care is a yearly camp for children whose parents are suffering from or have passed away from cancer and are clients of CCS. I blogged earlier this week about Camper Allie and how much she truly fits into the world of summer camp, so when I visited today I expected to see my beautiful wife in full Camper Allie mode, but ohh was I surprised.

When I arrived, I walked around to the side of the camp building to find my wife moving somewhat slowly while trying to help campers tie die shirts. Camper…excuse me, NAPPER Allie walked over and explained that she had just woke up from a nap in the music therapy room after a hard hike this morning. I was shocked! Rough and tumble Camper Allie had become Napper Allie more likely to be at home in our house with 3 lazy pups than on the fields of summer camp. To be fair, Alex led a group of kids and counselors on a rugged morning hike and was quite tired, but this still gave me a good opportunity to blog about her.

All joking aside, Camp Care is a truly magnificent place where kids who deal with tragedy day in and day out can enjoy beings kinds again. No child should have to face the difficulties these poor kids have to face. To compound the difficult of fighting cancer, many of these children’s families are barely surviving financially. Alex told me a story of one child who came with his only pair of shoes which were literally open around the toes and falling apart. I was very proud of my wife today for spearheading Camp Care and she is a natural!!