Rainy Day

I recently found myself sitting in my office on a cold rainy day. When it’s overcast outside, my office definitely feels dark and dreary… which can either make me feel super sad and lonely, or really inspired and artsy.

On this particular day, I decided to push away from my desk, load my camera with a roll of film and just get in the car. I had never shot film in the rain, and I was honestly getting tired of just practicing film in my backyard. So, I drove just down the road to a little trail head that I had discovered a few weeks before and began the 50 yard trek down to a tiny creek.

It was so great for me to just focus on what was right in front of me. I’m so used to trying to capture emotion and moments and kids running all around me. But, on this particular day, I forced myself to slow down and look at the details that were everywhere. At first glance, it didn’t look like much. But, then I started seeing some really spectacular things… trees with crazy vines and odd growths on them… water droplets that were barely hanging on leaves… tall blades of grass hoisting up tiny beads of water as if they were trying to get me to bend down and take a closer look.

It was so good for me to just drop what I was doing that day for about an hour and feed the creative longing in my soul. I never want to strangle out the art of photography with the business and branding side of things. I was reminded that day why I love doing what I do.

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Images shot with: Canon 1V, on Kodak Portra 400 / Processed by PhotoVision

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The Bayou

I was honored to have this photo essay of a trip back to my cajun roots with my dad and son featured on TRIAD Magazine last month. If you haven’t had a chance to spend some time over there, it would be good for your soul… promise.

I wanted to share it here as well because it has a special place in my heart and heritage.

Bayou01 Bayou02 As a kid, I can remember packing up our small flat-bottom boat with my dad for a little evening trip to the river. We would fill a small ice chest with a few Cokes, some Ritz Crackers + Cheese Wiz, and usually throw in a small fishing net for good measure. After dousing ourselves with sufficient amounts of DEET to ward off the mammoth mosquitoes that serve as armed guards for the Southeast Texas bayous, we would make the short trek down the road to the boat launch.

Within about five minutes, we would be transported to another world. Away from the hissing sounds of the highway, things are much slower on the bayou. Your senses are awakened to sounds that you rarely hear… birds screeching… dragon flies buzzing by… random fish grazing the surface of the water before plummeting back down. Water moves at a crawling pace, and if you’re lucky and patient, you’ll just may find yourself eye to eye with an alligator as it slowly peeks above the surface.

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Almost all of my family has roots in this small part of the world. An area that is soaked in culture that is intimately tied to the water.

As we would putter along in the boat, my dad always made a point of reminding me that my Great-Grandfather helped float cypress logs down those narrow canals many years ago. “Oh… and that little bayou over there… that’s where I used to come with my grandfather when I was a kid to fish. It’s amazing how some things don’t change back here”, he would say.

One of the many things I am thankful for in my life is the heritage that I have. Something deep inside my soul stirs around when I sit on the front of that little flat-bottom boat and drift through those bayous. I see the bearded cypress trees with their Spanish Moss gently moving in the wind, and I start thinking about the people that have gone before me. The ones that had similar blood running through their veins as myself and who floated along the same bayous many many years before I.

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When I brought my wife and kids back home recently, I was once again hit with this nostalgia overload. This time, it was my oldest boy wearing an oversized baseball cap helping his Papa load up that same old boat. We were careful not to leave home without the Cokes, but as people and times change, the Cheese Wiz did not make the journey.

As we began weaving around the maze of little bayous that evening, my soul was filled as I listened to my dad once again recall those same old stories to my boy, as if he was telling them for the first time. A heritage being passed down unknowingly to an eight year old from his grandfather.

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Contax 645 / Fuji 400H and Canon 1V / Kodak Portra 400 // Indie Film Lab

 

Reflecting on 50 Years of Racial Progress and My Story

50 years.

In the grand scheme of things, this is an incredibly short period of time. It’s truly difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that just 50 short years ago, my mother and father lived in a society that had racism woven into its very fabric and into our very hearts.

It was just 50 years ago today that Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC and spoke words that would be seared into the consciousness of humanity forever. Words that, as I read them today, stir something deep inside of me. Force me to recon with reality and ask hard questions.

Words like: “… for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.” – MLK

I often wonder where I would have stood 50 years ago.

I’m a southern guy. I was born and raised in the same small Texas town that my parents and their parents and their parent’s parents grew up in. A heritage that had been built for a century of mainly good hard working, church-going people that trained their kids to do the same. Our town didn’t have a single person of color as a resident for years. Although this is not necessarily evidence that everyone that lived their was seething with racial bigotry, it is still a fact that is difficult to swallow.

I wonder if this white boy, from an all white town in the south, would have even considered the fact that perhaps this black preacher on TV was speaking truth. Perhaps, just maybe, there was something off in our hearts that made us just go along with the norm of considering people of a different skin color than us inferior. Would the social pressure around me have just lulled me into a complacent attitude that said, “It’s just not that big of a deal… I shouldn’t ruffle feathers”?

So, that’s where I come from.

As everyone spends today reflecting back on the past 50 years of racial progress in our society, I look at my own heritage and history. Just 50 years after Dr. King stood in front of America and spoke words that may have caused people in my family to scoff or think that this just wasn’t the best direction for things at the time… I look at my sons.

brownwhite I have living, breathing proof that at least some things in our society have changed.

I’m sure that in August of 1963 that my grandparents would have never in a million years thought that one of their grandchildren would be an African American. As kids at the time, my parents could have probably never have imagined in their lifetime that their son could have a transracial family, in the south, and live to write about it online for anyone to read.

I get thick tears in the corners of my eyes when I think about the fact that our two sons (brown and white) literally join hands each day and run around our house. The dream… alive and well in our very home.

But, it even weighs heavier on me when I am able to see my grandparents, who were white adults living in the deep south in the 60′s, sit with my boy in their lap and treat him as an equal in our family.

Only by the grace of God.

I don’t intend to insinuate that we’re living in race-free paradise here in America. It’s far from it. I absolutely believe that Americans are still judged by the color of their skin before the content of their character can ever be discovered. Every. Single. Day. I believe that my brown son faces more of a challenge in our society than my white son will ever be able to grasp… simply because of the color of his skin. It’s true. We see it with our own eyes.

But, I also live in hope that God will continue to rid of hearts of the seeds of racism that spout up into the way we interact with one another. I believe that it’s happening. I believe that it can happen.

Today, I’m overwhelmingly grateful for thousands of people 50 years ago that took a stand for what was, without a doubt, the right thing to stand for.

Your legacy lives on. It was worth the trip to the Capitol that hot day in August. Thank you.

One Afternoon…

A few weeks ago, I was at home alone with this little guy while he was taking a nap and mom and brother were off doing something important. When he got up, we planted ourselves on the back porch and enjoyed the warm summer (perfect for waking up from a nap)!

He was laughing with me and having such a great time, so I decided to pull out a roll of film and just unload it in one sitting… capturing all his different faces and personality. One of the best ways I could see spending $25! Mason1

Mason2 Mason3 Mason4 Mason5Canon 1V  //  Kodak Portra 400  //  Developed by: Indie Film Lab

Colorado . 2013

We recently were able to spend a week in one of our favorite places in America… Colorado. These are the times that I feel incredibly blessed to do what I do for a living… photographing weddings in some of the most beautiful places and bringing my family along for some time away. Our goal is to book at least one wedding in Colorado every year… so tell your friends!!

We were really able to relax and reconnect during our time in the mountains near Durango, CO. From the outset, I decided that it would be best for both me and for my family if I made this an Instagram-free vacation. I moved both Instagram + Facebook to the very last screen on my phone so I wouldn’t be tempted to mindlessly click on it, and I resisted the urge to post every single photo I took of our trip for everyone to see. This was the absolutely best decision I’ve made in a long time. I was really able to be present with my family and not think about impressing people on the internet every moment of the day.

I also decided that I was going to leave behind my digital camera when we went on walks and stuff. I was armed only with my iPhone and my film camera. I haven’t sent my film off to get developed yet, but this is what was captured with my iPhone. I used VSCO CAM to shoot and edit every one of these photos right after I took them. I love this powerful photography tool that really allowed me to capture memories quickly and not spend forever behind my computer editing photos. My iPhone will now be my go-to camera on vacations!

Colorado01 Colorado02 Colorado03 Colorado04 Colorado05 Colorado06 Colorado07 Colorado08 Colorado09 Colorado10 Colorado11 Colorado12 Colorado13 Colorado14 Colorado15 Colorado16 Colorado17 Colorado18 Colorado19 Colorado20 Colorado21 Colorado22 Colorado23 Colorado24 Colorado25 Colorado26 Colorado27 Colorado28 Colorado29 Colorado30All images shot and processed on iPhone using VSCO CAM.

A Trip Back Home

Early this summer I spent a weekend back in my hometown. The more time that I am away from those roots, the more and more it seems things change. Things simply look different when you return with different eyes in a different stage of life.

One day when the kids were napping and I had some free time, I went on a little walk with one of my film cameras. One of the refreshing things about learning film is that it has forced me to take photos of things rather than people. The last thing I would want to do would be to “learn” my camera on a client’s dime. So, I’ve been taking lots of photos of plants and other non-moving objects.

I grew up just across the street from my grandparents and great-grandparents… one of the most amazing things about my childhood. I spent lots of time in their homes, in their yards and in their lives. I learned a lot about plants and gardening and being outside from the times I spent with them.

As I walked around the dense pine forests that make up our homestead, I came upon my Maw-Maw’s old green house. Of course it looks much different now… only a skeletal frame of what once was. Overtaken by vines and young trees vying for space. Many pots laid in piles on the ground, full of soil but void of life… symbolizing a passing away of more than just a few people, but a way of life.
Heritage01Heritage02Heritage03 Heritage04 Heritage05 Heritage06Canon 1V  //  Kodak Portra 400  //  Indie Film Lab

The Rarity of Great Artists

I think it’s fairly rare to grow up knowing an artist.

Now, I know that the term “artist” can be thrown around loosely. I mean, anyone with an Instagram account and an iPhone can call themselves an artist. The advent of Pinterest has basically sold art as a cheap commodity to be copied and pasted into homes everywhere. But, that’s not the kind of artist I’m referring to.

I’m talking about the artist that gives their life to their art. The kind that lives each day creating a masterpiece that few people understand. The kind that forsakes many comforts in the world and foregoes most material possessions because the pursuit of art is all-consuming.

Of course, it’s arguable whether or not art is a worthy thing to give your life to. But, whenever you encounter such a person… such an eccentric and counter-cultural individual… it definitely causes you to pause and think. Much like great art itself.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was one of those rare individuals that was blessed to be able to grow up next door to such a person. He was my great uncle, and he will be forever known for the art he produced. He was the type of person that was mocked by the ignorant and thought to be a little crazy… but, when you stopped and listened, conversations felt like reading a good novel. It was refreshing to be able to talk about things that just weren’t discussed in normal culture.

Last year, Charles Stagg passed away. I wrote about his impact on my life back then and how he helped shape me as an artist (someone who hopes to be an artist).

A few weeks ago, while I was home visiting, I walked over to his studio/home/art-masterpiece with my film camera. It was kinda sad to see things that had been destroyed by ignorant people that don’t respect beauty. But, it was also cool to be able to walk in and around a structure that represented the life work of a single person.

Here are some of the images that came from my visit //
Charles Stagg 01 Charles Stagg 02 Charles Stagg 03 Charles Stagg 04 Charles Stagg 05 Charles Stagg 06 Charles Stagg 07 Charles Stagg 08 Charles Stagg 09 Charles Stagg 10 Charles Stagg 11 Charles Stagg 12 Charles Stagg 13Canon 1v  //  Kodak Portra 400  //  Indie Film Lab