“Beautiful doesn't begin to describe it. A flower is beautiful. But this is beautiful the way that a person is beautiful- terrifying with its jagged edges, yet seductive with its crevices that hide so many secrets.”
― Jeri Smith-Ready
Post Processed in Adobe Lightroom 5.6 and Photoshop Sharpening was applied with High Pass and Overlay filters.
"She gets goosebumps from tiny, perfect things. Seeing the stars. Fruit trees in bloom. The scent of dinner from a neighbors house, a phone call at the right time, a bar of exotic chocolate. She keeps a list in her wallet of the gorgeous parts of the everyday: maple leaves, new perfume, slow-cooked tomato sauce. She adds to it all the time. She is rich with wonder.
She lies awake and listens to what her heart has to say,
hears it declare that this is the beginning of her own new year."
I share the calendar spot-light with some of my absolute favorite photographers!
Thank you, Aperture Academy for a thought-provoking interview and a fine platform. To see my name up there with the likes of Art Wolfe, Guy Tal, David Cobb and Paul Marcellini and Stephen Oachs to name a few is just surreal.
Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha Two years ago last May, I had purchased my first full-frame sensor camera, a used Canon 5D Mark II. A few months after that I bought my first Canon L series lens, a 24-105mm. It's the only lens I own that I bought new. I still use the same gear today. I was so excited about the camera but it took a awhile to actually have the money. In the meantime, I'd read the entire David Busch manual on the camera before I ever even touched it.
This website has been an amazing source of information, education and inspiration for my emerging career. Kevin Raber has been watching my development since the very beginning so he's seen the good, the bad and the emerging.
Kevin and Michael and Jeff have been a huge part of my development and I'm very grateful.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ― Maya Angelou
The Blue Lakes Trail, Colorado For almost a year I prepared for a hike and to photograph at a location I'd seen in a magazine awhile back. I purposely wanted to do the hike during the monsoon to insure some dramatic skies or at least hope for them. The surgeon I work for had also planned in advance an extreme backpacking trip out of the county so I had enough time to reserve a cabin in the area for several days in case I needed the extra time. During the months that lead up to the hike I had plenty of time to study about the trek, terrain, wildlife and angles to consider with the photography. Probably the most prepared I've ever been for a hiking/photography endeavor or so I thought.
“Every day brings us a chance to start over. We all have those stand down moments when we need to clear the way for truth and transformation. Sometimes those are painful moments. Though it’s hard to imagine, when you lose what you thought was a valued relationship, when the job that defined you for twenty years is gone, when the people you counted on turn their backs on you; you may actually be taking a step forward on the path to your truest desires and ultimately to your destiny.
"Come over the hills and far with me And be my love in the rain." — Robert Frost
There is a certain melancholic sleepiness I'm drawn to within the scenes of the American countryside. Laced eloquently with small man-made structures amid rolling green pastures , majestic mountain ranges dwarfed by the brooding heavens. Where the frailties of man mingle with the exquisite beauty of nature.
Robert Frost's "Road less traveled" seen in the foreground
Amidst the sterility of the surgical environment, the antiseptic trays, cold mayo stand set ups and the endless gloving and de-gloving sometimes the human element is over-shadowed by volume and simply referred to as a case. In my particular niche of surgery (I work as a surgical technician) the case if often referred to as a body part. The nose in 5, or the eyelid in 6. I drive in dark morning hours, greeted by security in a high-rise setting deep in the city. Many times while setting up a case I have stared out the window to view the downtown city lights twinkling as the concrete jungle prepares for a new day. I think of where I want to explore next and how I'd rather have my tripod in my hand and my hiking shoes on. I count myself as very fortunate to have been gainfully employed in a medical specially that funds my gear, explorations and gives me the room and time to roam the American Southwest.
I had a couple of hours to come up with a bio and photo of myself for a photography project I was working on. To be truthful, I knew I had to do it but procrastinated hugely. I was actually on my way out to hike with my dog and had to turn around when I got a email to "get it done" today.
Even though at one point in my years as a California beach girl, I did print work. I was never prepared for the industry. I'd been "scouted" one day at a gym and didn't give it much thought. A "particular" shot went viral on AOL and driving one day in my car, I actually heard the local DJ's talking about my photo, I became suspiciously fearful of attention. I loved the photography but after a while, the act of having the camera pointed at me created a full-blown phobia. I have no idea why, I just know the anxiety it produced. If you want to get rid of me, you'll never have to insult me, just aim a camera at me and I'm gone.
How do you explain such a fear. At a breakfast meeting with a group of photographers, one literally sat across the table and aimed his camera at me while I tried to eat. I left. I now found myself avoid meetings, meet-ups, anything like that, and yes, I know it's my loss. I'm trying to work through it.
After delving into a crash course in self-portraiture this weekend, I realized the whole time, my heart was pounding! I'd get the camera in focus and my face wouldn't be. I'd get my face in focus and my tripod wouldn't be. I had a tough time with focus and this is what I got!! . I know I had this naive notion that as my photography was getting more and more exposure, I could still live in an anonymous role as just the person behind the camera or behind the pen. My theories were starting to break apart, into reality. Especially with the advent of social media, obscurity is an obscure notion. Recognition happens, albeit uncomfortably.
" But before all else, a work of art is the creation of love. Love for the subject first and for the medium second.... Love is the general criterion by which the rare photograph is judged. It must contain it to be not less than the best of which the photographer is capable"
If there is ever a place that fully delights all my sensibilities, the hiker, the painter and the photographer and more, it is The Painted Desert. (Arizona) It conjures up memories of those narrated Walt Disney nature movies, that little rock collection my mother bought for me at the Grand Canyon which held a little vial of layered and colored sand. It delights every bit of the artist within when I see pastel layers now brought into full chromic saturation by the summer rain. The colors seem to run as they do on a sheet of pre-moistened warm Arches, down slopes, into crevices creating patterns and mingling with the next hue in fine outstretched fingers. Sweeping lines and soft muted domes like a field of sweet ice-cream cones rolling on forever. In my compositional thought processes I make no distinction between photos or paintings, paint or pixels. It's all art to me.
"There can be many reasons why we first pick up a camera, but sooner or later it takes us on a journey. A relatively recent traveller is North American landscape photographer Valerie Millett. You should not delude yourself over her apparent speed of travel, however effective her use of social media. Behind the development in her image making lies a firm determination to better herself, and a considerable amount of hard work. She is now carefully forging a path of her own choosing, travelling at her own pace. You may have come across her blog which reveals that she is as comfortable with words as with images, however created. A mix of apt quotations and her own words tell of a developing dialogue with land and light and reveal something of the soul of this particular photographer."
It all started with a co-worker's sick dog. We'd chat in wee dark morning hours over a cup of coffee before surgery about the prognosis and progress of her long time best friend who eventually passed. Then we'd avoid such tender conversations before long days and sterile environments but it lingered and drifted into my own world and thoughts of my own best friend.
Around that time, I started to feel bad for my pal who often spent most of her days without any company and had come to rely of me to make the most of what hours of day were left by the time I got home. Many times, I walked past her, putting myself first. I would change and head to the gym or jump on the computer but then all that changed.
I came home one day and we just stared at each other. I couldn't pretend to not understand. I couldn't put myself first anymore. Where was I going anyway? I'd come home in a hurry, rush here, rush there. I had important emails to write and people to contact and get back with. An interview to complete and people to meet and calls to make. Then one day, I just didn't care anymore. One day, I cared more about a sad dog, grabbed a leash and headed to the park.
"Life is complex. Each one of us must make his own path through life. There are no self-help manuals, no formulas, no easy answers. The right road for one is the wrong road for another...The journey of life is not paved in blacktop; it is not brightly lit, and it has no road signs. It is a rocky path through the wilderness. " — M. Scott Peck
As a long time painter, I was often so moved by the works of others that it occasionally hampered my own creative efforts. I was hugely inspired by John Singer-Sargent's watercolors and his ability to manipulate the luminosity of his images and create stunningly vibrant scenes by his brilliant knowledge of warm and cool tones and where to lay them. The watercolorist in me was always a bit insecure, a difficult medium to conquer no doubt but Sargent was a hard act to follow. Eventually, as in all art forms, you become the most creative when you follow your own voice but there's much to be said for being inspired. He made me a much better painter.
"The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them -- words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That's the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a tellar but for want of an understanding ear." — Stephen King (Different Seasons)
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
You’ve written that you have now stepped into the image on the page and are starting to live your dream?
As a child I’d escape through the pages of National Geographic and I’d sit on the floor and just dream of those places. The deserts, the Grand Canyon and the National Parks.
The moonlit storm crept over the hill and whistled, beckoned and danced at my window. The damp summer breeze, heavy, musty and powerful swirled around my room. I could hear the tall country grass bending and the leaves hitting the screen and I watched the distant lighting play against the sky. Cracking, rumbling, rolling thunder I could feel in my chest.
I lay there, jaded city girl untrusting of all of this, yet not wanting it to end. In the morning, as if in a dream, the adventure had slipped away silently leaving only a whisper with the sunrise.
Such a departure from my static sandstone canyons. Not foreign in the least, as I'd grown up among the coastal California landscapes but a whole different world as a photographer.
Noisy and wet, cold and damp. Walking on these rocks was like walking on concrete shards of glass. The patterns and textures of the natural jetties were beautiful and with each wave, little waterfalls sprung to life. Sea spray danced as the waves crashed and little pockets of tide pools hide their treasures.
Recent trip to visit family and explore the California coast. I stayed in Southern California for a bit then headed north to the central coast and Big Sur area. Then I shot over a bit west to exploreYosemite. Quite an amazing road trip!
“When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and opens ways for better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it and shows there are still more pages possible.” ― Robert Henri
Never let anyone tell you how to express yourself, find yourself, your style or how to create and explore your art. Don't let them close your book. Whatever the medium, paint, photography, video, the digital brush or the sable brush, it's YOUR art. There's no wrong way to do it or master it. There isn't ONE expert on the planet to say otherwise or one opinion that matters in the least.
Remember that. Just be. Open your book, be wonderful, be an expressive creature. Damn the torpedos!