YoaHTs: “Thing” 72 – “Sex Pt. 1”

Sex is, above all, entertainment. Yes, it perpetuates a species. Yes, it can be an expression of affection and intimacy, an addiction, a tool, and a weapon. But the bottom line is, after all the fireworks, in a healthy sexual relationship, you’re supposed to feel really, really, ridiculously good.

For reasons I cannot explain, I have discussed sex lately with an amazing variety of people, in entirely unrelated circumstances and from every perspective I could have imagined. I have no professional training in psychology, or sex therapy, but I have no issues discussing sex and, for reasons I’ve stated below, I’m fairly knowledgeable about it, so people tend to feel comfortable talking to me about it. The one thing that stood out – and yes, I am keenly aware of the comedy in that phrase – was that people STILL just don’t know how to talk about it to one another. One would think that such a simple problem is easily solved, but with everyone boiling in their own tea kettle, it’s a problem that seems to require an interpreter in nearly every case. As I listened intently in every conversation, I began to see patterns.*

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3x5s

“Didn’t have a camera by my side this time,
Hopin’ I would see the world through both my eyes,
Maybe I will tell you all about it
When I’m in the mood to lose my way with words.”
(John Mayer)

I’ll have to beg your forgiveness for beginning this piece with song lyrics, but it is among my favorites songs, and every time I hear it, it takes me down the same path.

A few years ago, I officially retired from IT and decided that I’d pursue photography as a profession rather than the hobby it had been. While I have enjoyed the work most of the time, I now find myself having learned an unexpected lesson. The business of photography sucked the joy out of the art of photography, for me. I wanted to capture a story in every frame. That is not what happened. It became rote. It made me very depressed. Most inquiries wanted cheap, quick, painless and Photoshop. I wanted to create. More and more of my friends are leaving the “business,” as well, for the same reason. In an effort to love the art again, I cut jobs down to only a few a month. It has been a relief.

I have had several heart-to-hearts about this with a friend. He is my creative conscience, and he gives my fears no quarter. Stop taking your gear, he said. Just use your phone. See things. And this weekend, on a trip to Minnesota, I did as he said. The process was, at first, frustrating as hell. I know my gear, intimately. I know the buttons and dials. I can control depth of field, and ambient light, and compression. With my phone, I could only control composition and focal point. It was a bit like someone had cut off my hand. I forged on, nonetheless. And I did, in fact, see small things I might have missed. As usual, my friend was right about what it takes to get out of my head space.

All of these images were shot using my iPhone. It is proof of two things: (1) seeing requires your eyes first, (2) the camera is only the tool.

I’m slowly getting my mojo back, and for that I have to thank my friend. I don’t enjoy looking inward, because that’s where the heavy lifting is. But I’ll do it every time for the payoff. It’s priceless.

More on these images individually, in later posts. Some warrant their own.

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Year of a Hundred Things – “Thing” # 89 – Blown Glass

Okay, okay, take a minute to titter about the title (but first, forgive my alliteration). (Oh, and thank you Linda G. Hill for reminding me how much I love the word “titter.”)

Alright, now that you’re done…

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Temptation

For some bizarre reason, I am obsessed with archeology and history as it applies to the Old Testament. I’ve tried to figure it out, but frankly, lost interest in the reasons. Perhaps it supports my real obsession with the psychology of motivation. Tonight, I started a recent Nat Geo issue that was entirely dedicated to Biblical history. The first section, logically, is dedicated to the Pentateuch. I’d never really read the story in such a condensed arrangement. Taking out much of the text truly simplified the message and my wanna-be-psychologist-in-training mind went to work on it.

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Viewfinder Evolution

I allowed twenty-something years in IT to turn me into a harpy, screeching and bringing ill will to those that had stifled my creative darlings. I wanted out so that I  could live with myself and stop tormenting the people around me. So, while expecting the birth of my beloved niece #2, I decided on an exit strategy. Continue reading

Year of a Hundred Things: “Thing” #98, “Lenses”

Lenses

“Wow, you must have a great camera.”

Photographers hear that a lot because many people assume that the camera does all of the work. But the camera, like the computer on your desk, or the oven in your kitchen, does nothing without the person holding it. Furthermore, the camera means nothing without the lens. The lens is what determines the look of the image. Is it wildly distorted? Is it what the human eye sees? Is it the perfect portrait lens?

But what is the lens without the hand that gives it focus?

It’s an easy metaphor, isn’t it? One can have all of the talent in the world, and not have the ability to give it focus. I know my lenses, intimately. I know which one will give my subjects the most beautiful profile. I know which will showcase the spectacular silhouette of the wedding dress chosen with all of the emotion of a hopeful bride. I know which lens will add pounds and I know which will take pounds away. And I know how to focus them all.

I have spent (and will continue to spend) a great deal of time acquiring my education as a photographer, and yet in 13 years, I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface. I will never be wholly satisfied. But I view the world through my lenses. I see an image come together in that small frame and I know I’ve selected the right tool for the job. Each lens has a different feel, and I’m aware of the quality I can expect from them. But without my hands, they are simply glass and metal. It is entirely up to me to use them to make something beautiful.