Thursday, September 16, 2010

Life is short, but that's no excuse.

The thin thread our lives ride on is truly remarkable.

Today while perusing Facebook, I responded to someone who had made this post:

"No matter what you believe or who you believe in, it is my
opinion that we will all be judged on how we treat others and what
you've done to help someone else."

The words that sprung into my head from years ago were:

"....... What remains is the blessed flower of good deeds.....", which was translated from the Latin text of the baritone part of Symphonic Requiem, which our High School Concert Band had played back in 1968, directed by the composer, Vaclav Nelhybel.

This memory, which sprung back to me after all of these years, was probably the best episode I had in High School.

I can still see this man in front of the band, yelling at the kettle drummer, "Don't caress the drum, HIT IT!!!". I can remember the tears in his eyes as the winds and sax sections rode the waves of the second movement. I saw the love, passion, anger and joy he felt in creation.

The memory of him telling us that he had never heard his composition played more musically,.. but mostly the memory of the music brings tears to me still.

So why am I telling this to you all?

It is this. People affect you, and you affect people. Most of us are not aware of what our words and actions will mean to others. We just go through our lives, trying to cope with our own personal battles. But every now and then, let's sit back and wonder if we were the best we could be.

Vaclav Nelhybel didn't know me. I don't know if he ever laid eyes on me or took any notice, but the man profoundly affected me by being the best, most passionate artist he could be.
He took such joy in creating his music - it was infectious. We didn't play the music, we experienced and created and felt it all at once.

So now I'm a photographer, doing my best to pour all of my passion, joy, sadness, anger and love through the hole in the box, which is my camera. And I remember this man Vaclav Nelhybel, who 42 years ago affected me to my very core.

The only recording of Symphonic Requiem I had was an old reel-to-reel tape, so I googled his name, and came up with an email address. Just moments after I sent the email, I got a note back from his wife.

I'll not bore you with the details, but suffice it to say,

"Life is short, but that's no excuse.. to not say "Thank You".

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New York State Fair's Treasures

For 4 wonderful days this past week, I practically lived in the Youth Building at the New York State Fair, evaluating the work of 4-H kids from all over New York. The enthusiasm and talent of these youthful photographers is truly inspiring.

Here are a few examples:

Ok, after some 300 images, they can blur together, but there were a number of standouts. The top photo is flowers on a wet morning, backlit by the first rays of the sun.

What I want you to pay attention to is not that they are just "pretty pictures", but that each of these images were carefully thought out and "crafted" by their young makers.

It doesn't matter what type the camera is - the vision of the photographer is all that matters. The middle photo, the girl with the soccer ball was staged and photographed by her cell phone.

The next one - the flower reflected in the drop, was carefully staged by a young man who worked with multiple flowers to get the absolute largest drop he could to sit on the red petal, then held another flower at just the right place with one hand, while shooting the image with his other hand.

The last one was taken on a carriage ride in Ireland. Our artist used filters to make the photograph look like a watercolor painting.

I quote Michael Barton, "A camera is a box with a hole in it." The image that comes out is the sum total of what the artist puts through that hole.

My congratulations to the photography exhibitors at State Fair. I have great hope for our profession!