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Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

18 Jan

Normally, I’d post a Dr. MLK Jr. quote about the complexities of love and hate, and leave it at that. A quote that’s profound. Powerful. Inspiring.

But this year, with all of the problems America is facing right now? How could I just add another meme to the slush pile of the internet? Who would that help?

No one, is the answer. It wouldn’t encourage you to think about the context of those quotes. How they came to be. How poorly received they were and how poorly treated he was. The uphill battle every BIPOC (black, indigenous, person of color) faces every day in the United States, from its founding to now.

Nor would it encourage you to think about the divided state of our country and how we can heal those wounds. How unproductive extremism and hate is. How beneficial moderation can be.

It certainly wouldn’t get you to think about how WORDS MATTER. Rhetoric matters. Lies told are lies believed, and so, honesty matters. Not cherry-picked truths, mind you. No. The bald face of a situation, followed by productive conversations, active and compassionate listening, and beneficial solutions.

So today, instead of just a quote, I ask that you do the hard work. Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by really learning about his journey, no the history softened by time. Read some of his works that make you uncomfortable. Challenge yourself to be better. Because better is the only viable way forward for our country.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

The time is always right to do what is right.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness..

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

A New Day :: NY

2 Nov
A New Day :: NY
A New Day :: NY

“We need to learn to be strong in the face of despair, because that is the only way we will appreciate the strength that can be found in our scars. That is the only way we will understand that overcoming our obstacles gives us the willpower to deal with so much more in life. That is the only way we will accept that strength is earned, not given, that strength is in being soft, not stone-hearted.” -Ruby Dahl

These are challenging times. We are a country divided, with both empathy and discord thrown by the wayside. But we cannot move forward with hardened hearts. That way danger lies.

Despite our differences, we have more in common with each other than not. Our ideas on how to provide for ourselves and our families may be different, but we look toward the same goals.

There can be no room for hate and divisive rhetoric if we want to move forward as one nation, where all men and women are created equal, and given the same respect and opportunities. We must listen to our neighbors. Empathize with their struggles. Realize we are all in this together. Stop being fooled into thinking our fellow man is our enemy, and look at what our goals are and how we can collectively get there.

In this season of increasingly aggressive political attacks, take a step back from the emotional tribalism and think rationally about where our country is headed (looking at the scope of human history for context), and how you imagine your children’s future on all levels–their ability to find work and support themselves, their access to health care, their ability to exercise their rights under the constitution, their emotional health, the state of the environment and if it will continue to support future generations…. Talk to people outside of your echo chamber and get their perspective. Think about the progress our country has made in recognizing people’s civil rights while also understanding growth is fluid and can backslide. There are still flaws, but we should always look forward with the goal of a brighter future. Do the work to educate yourself, rather than relying on vitriol and memes. *Then* cast your vote.

Atmospheric :: NH

21 Sep

Atmospheric :: NH

Atmospheric :: NH

The day before had been dreary. Foggy. Damp. But eventually, the sun shines again. ❤

A wonderful metaphor for life, eh?

2020 has been difficult for most of us, but I believe it will get better.  Not just with time–though, of course that will be needed–but with a positive outlook, ingenuity, pairing common sense and sound science, perseverance, and with making sure your elected officials consider your needs when making policy.  If you’re unhappy with how 2020 has been progressing, then you need to make your voice heard.  VOTE!

Where Do We Go From Here?

3 Jul

2020 has been a wild ride so far. A year of more change than most ever expected to happen at once, but some of it was/is so sorely needed.

On a grand scale, a spotlight has highlighted the cracks in our foundation as a nation, and it’s up to us to address these problems. To become better people and a better country for it. Our healthcare system is struggling. Our economy is struggling. American citizens… your fellow brothers, sisters, wives, mothers, fathers, grandparents, and children…are (once again) asking for equality…to be judged on their character, not their skin color, gender identity or sexual orientation.

On the small scale, we’ve had to look at what is important in our own lives. How we spend our time. Our money. Many have said that the lockdown opened their eyes to the importance of family and friends, as the fear of loss loomed over everyone’s heads. Many have recognized the restorative nature of the arts, exercise and time spent outdoors, as people turned to those things for solace over their disrupted lives.

(Personally, as we are encouraged not to travel out of state and be a strain on/danger to other communities, I’ve been spending more time focusing on the little moments, the local wildlife, the flowers in my yard or along the dog walking trail… I’m trying to be more present in the moment and be grateful for the small blessings I still have.  To that end, I was super excited when I started seeing birds at our backyard feeder. The feeder, mind you, was put up so the cat would have something to watch through the window during the day….because I’m a crazy cat-mom, I guess? lol  Hence, the bird photos.)

Anyway…..  Where do we go from here? Problems don’t improve by ignoring them. Addressing them is inevitable, as difficult and overwhelming as it may seem. After all, change is the only constant in life. How you react to it…that’s the part you have power over.

Only time will tell if we make the right decisions as a nation. If our elected leadership works for the people–all of the people–and steers the ship in the right direction. I hope we, as a nation, come out of this challenging time on the right side of history. But that starts with you.

Speak your truth, and more importantly, listen to the truth of others, even if…especially if…you have a hard time understanding their life experiences. A bridge must be built on a solid foundation. And remember, compassion. One of the most beautiful things in our world is the diverse tapestry of humanity. You’ll only enrich your life by embracing it. As heard during a panel on racism hosted by a local university: “We need acceptance, not tolerance.” ❤️

 

I’ve been pretty terrible about updating this website.  I’ll try to do better. lol  But you can follow me here, on instagram, for slightly more current images.

Relic :: NH

5 Dec

Relic :: NH

“Do it for the ‘gram!” – People who ruin it for the rest of us.

This fall, Melissa and I took a trip to lower VT/NH for some foliage shots. We stopped at a quiet spot for sunrise, then schlepped over to Madame Sherri’s. It’s been on the list of places to see for a long time and we were finally checking it off.

We get there and the place was over run with people. Knowing this is a popular and unique location though, I was willing to be patient and wait my turn. Everyone has the same right to experience this spot, right?

But then a college-aged looking girl started climbing the stairs and perched over the top arch. The arch that clearly has a crack in it. The arch that looks likely to fall first.

Maybe it’s the nurse in her. Maybe it’s the mom in her. Either way, Melissa called out, suggesting that it wasn’t safe and that she would come down the steps a bit.

The girl’s mother, who was taking shots of the girl on her cell phone, turned to us and said it was fine. And heck, she’s the girl’s guardian so who are we to disagree?

But truth be told, it rankled. In part, because no one wants to see a kid get hurt if that thing crashes down. But also, if someone is up there when it does eventually crumble, and they get injured, Everyone will lose access to the ruins.

So many people these days have an entitled, short-sighted attitude. While I fully support an adventurous mindset, I also believe in safety and conservation; those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but the I-do-what-I-want mentality really throws a wrench into things.

Ultimately, the girl came down off of the stairs safely, but how many people will see her post on social media and think to mimic her? We all have a responsibility to set good examples. If we aren’t willing to speak up when we see something dangerous and to preserve our special places (environment, planet, etc) now, then what are we leaving for our children? Once the places or access is gone, it’s gone.

If you’re interested in prints this gift-giving season, let me know.  You can find a gallery’s worth of options here.

 

Supporting dreams with Small Business Saturday, Etc.

30 Nov

Light Bright :: CT

Light Bright :: CT

Yesterday, I thought to myself, “Self, I should promote my business for Black Friday.”  Then I took my dog for a three mile hike and spent time with loved ones instead.

Thanksgiving is truly my favorite holiday, because it’s about spending time with the people that make our hearts feel full.  And eating until our pants bust. 😛  I feel Christmas is just too damn commercial these days.  But, if I must shop, I try to support my entrepreneurial friends in their endeavors.  Then, I’m not falling into the trap of predatory marketing…I’m supporting someone’s dream.

I urge you to spend some time browsing your friends websites, etsy, craft fairs, etc to see if there’s any goodies you want to pass on to your friends and family this gift-giving season.  Musicians, crocheters, painters, jewelry makers, etc.

And if you happen to own a small business, I urge YOU to leave your website in the comments.  Lets help support each others dreams this holiday season. ❤

For those of you interested in purchasing prints of my photos, there is a whole gallery’s worth of options here.  You can contact me at seespotsphoto AT yahoo DOT com.  I’m offering 10% off if you purchase between now and Tuesday.  I’ll donate that same 10% to one of my favorite charities, Heifer International who works on reducing world poverty with sustainable agriculture and business practices.

Nature First

30 Apr

Nature First :: WA

Nature First :: WA

 

Last week, Jennifer Renwick and Sarah Marino (both spectacular landscape photographers and humans!) approached me with a new initiative they are working on called “Nature First”.

In some ways, landscape photography is a double edged sword.  I think most of us get into this field because we love nature and want to celebrate and share the beauty of the world with others, in the hopes that we might inspire them to embrace nature as we have.  However, with the evolution of social media, and the affordability of travel, it’s become easier than ever for people to visit locations they’ve seen beautiful photos of…and without proper education and restraint, things can quickly get out of hand.  For example, a few weeks back, California experienced a super bloom of poppies – one of the most prolific years they’ve had in quite some time.  People flocked to see the flowers, to disastrous effect.   Tens of thousands of people descended on Lake Elsinore, and the popular Walker Canyon had to be shut down, as they could not accommodate the volume of visitors.  And the tourists themselves lacked the caution necessary to preserve such fragile locations, often straying from paths, disturbing wildlife (at least one rattlesnake bite was reported) and trampling huge swaths of the very thing they’d come to see.

In a similar example, just this past week, Panther Falls in Oregon closed the route to the lower falls because someone fell trying to see it.  That location was made popular by landscape photographers, and now, access is being restricted.

I cannot say that in my time as a photographer, I have never been careless, thoughtless or broken a rule I didn’t agree with.  But over time, I’ve come to realize that if I am to be a good steward for this planet, then I need to place its needs over the desire for a pretty shot.  I cannot assume that simply because I did the rock walk around fragile alpine that someone else will.  I can’t assume that because I know to keep a massive distance between myself and wildlife, and have access to a large zoom lens that someone else will.  I need to be more thoughtful in what I do, and just as importantly (if not more) in what I share, and how I share it.  Do I use my photos as teachable moments?  Do I use caution when posting fragile locations?  Am I doing my best to protect our green spaces?

To that end, Nature First has come up with a list of guidelines specifically for landscape photographers, in conjunction with the Leave No Trace principles.

 

1. Prioritize the well-being of nature over photography.

2. Educate yourself about the places you photograph.

3. Reflect on the possible impact of your actions.

4. Use discretion if sharing locations.

5. Know and follow rules and regulations.

6. Always follow Leave No Trace principles and strive to leave places better than you found them.

7. Actively promote and educate others about these principles

 

If you’re interested in learning more about the Nature First movement, or better yet, joining, you can read about it over at https://www.naturefirstphotography.org
 
Every single one of us has the ability to make a positive difference and use our voice for change.  What will you do with yours?

Nirvana :: Ireland

25 Apr

Nirvana :: Ireland

Nirvana :: Ireland

Earth Day. A day when we remind each other to be good stewards, to protect the planet, to take care of our home – our only home. But in reality, those should be our goals for every day.

It’s easy to get discouraged, to think your efforts don’t matter. I’ve heard stories of people being berated: “You think recycling matters with the amount of polluting other people do???”

But change is slow. It’s not just about changing habits, but about changing society, and about placing our value on the longevity of the planet over the easy, cheap, and dangerous practices we have now. So while you may feel like your decision to avoid straws, or plastic bags, or to turn the water off while you brush your teeth, or to eat less meat, or to vote for responsible environmental laws are minuscule efforts in the face of a Herculean problem, remember that it’s just the beginning. Someone is watching, someone is learning from your decisions, and you are part of a domino effect for the better. So you recycle that container (etc) with pride, you trend-setter, you!  And know that you’re contributing to the health and well-being of our planet, and our species.

Kaleidoscope :: CT

29 Nov

Kaleidoscope :: CT

Kaleidoscope :: CT

 

The news these days is rough, but it’s important to remember that dark days are when we need to shine our lights the most, to bring some good back into the world. ❤

There is never a wrong time to show kindness, be empathetic, and help others. I encourage all of you to look into your hearts, and think about what you can do to help the world be a brighter, better, safer place. It’s when we come together with love and the mentality that we can make a difference that we start to see positive change in the world.

Black Sand :: Iceland

30 Oct

Black Sand :: Iceland

Black Sand :: Iceland

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” Vincent Van Gogh

I found out recently that one of my students passed away while out exploring his new home. It came as quite the shock for a lot of us that knew him, both in terms of a lost friend, and as a reminder of our own mortality and the risks associated with our passion – landscape photography.

My heart goes out to his loved ones. I hope you find comfort in the joyful memories you made together. ❤️

This shot is from a notoriously dangerous beach in Iceland, with warning signs that often go ignored or misunderstood by tourists. Reynisfjara beach has particularly dangerous waves due to the location and steepness of the continental shelf.