Monday, December 17, 2007

A Journey of Connections

Picture this - Grand Canyon - almost two years ago. Me, standing on the edge of the South Rim, camera to my eye, shutter rapid firing, never pausing for breath. Image after image flew from my camera - seen first with my eyes, then with my mind, pushed through with dizzying speed onto the digital card, ready for download. But I don't know that I was even a conscious player in this translation of breathtaking beauty. Even now I look back and question, did I see this wonder of the world with my soul, or just with my eyes? And is it possible to convey the enormity, the heart wrenching beauty, of a place like this without the connection between the two, without knowing how to see with both?

I quickly discovered that the answer was no.

The best and strongest images come not just from being in the right place at the right time, but from being deeply, emotionally connected to or moved by a place or thing or person. there needs to be a shared intimacy, a common thread of understanding, a bridge between that which is and that which can be. These bridges can last for hours, days, months, or a lifetime, but without them, a picture is just an image on paper, dumped out with tomorrow's trash, destined for decay and absorbed back into the earth.

And so I learned that I must pause in a place, take whatever time I need to let my mind reach out and my soul establish a connection to it. Sometimes the spark is instantaneous - a glowing arc that is almost visible that moves me into position before I even have time to think. Sometimes it's a slow, tedious crawl, pushing myself to find my groove, to work with what I see, to find the place in me that connects with the place outside, allowing for the communication of the truth, with nothing lost in translation.

Sometimes the connection is tenuous, and forcing it only disappoints me in the long run. If I cannot connect at first, even in those once-in-a-lifetime places, there may be a moment, or many, when I have to just stop, sit, put down my camera, and breathe, take it in, stroke my soul by absorbing, not doing, not moving, just being.

And then, sometimes, a connection is impossible. In these moments, I must learn to move on and know that, however shaky it makes me, there are some journeys I must take without my camera so that I might appreciate the beauty upon which I walk and thus be more prepared the next time I stand on the edge of something. And if, in these moments, the only picture I take is with my heart, then I must learn to be content in knowing that this at least I can pull out from the depths of memory to content me in the cold, dark days of winter that might otherwise drag me under.

It took a retrospective look at my trip to the Canyon combined with the most recent seven weeks in the South to convince me of these truths. I know now that best of my images have come from moments that have stories, timeless instances where I loved, lived, breathed, was viscerally connected to all that I was seeing in a way that we can only ever be when we feel we are come home. And it is in this knowing that I can truly be able to share what is before me, the world through my eyes, the communication of something powerful and awe-inspiring as I stand on the precipice in the presence of something far greater that I am.

Join me in 2008 as I explore journeys and connections. I hope to share with you images of places that I have been and connections I have made with these most wonderful places. Some will be places I've been before, some places I am going to that I've never been, and some a little of both. I look forward to seeing you on the way!

Merry and Blessed Christmas to all!


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Around the World in 12 hours

I am a travel nut. I love to take journeys to new and exciting places with history and tradition and no-kidding authentic cuisine. I like to live the culture, eat my way through the experience, walk from sun up to sundown, and sleep as little as possible. But every now and then I like to pretend; to travel shorter distances and experience the same sort of thing but in a pampered environment where we all speak the same language, use the same currency and can turn the experience on and off at a whim. And one of my all time favorite places to do this, when traveling through Orlando, is at Epcot.
According to one clever tour guide, EPCOT stands for "every person comes out tired". Ha! No kidding! Aaron and I walked around from the time it opened (9 AM) until the fireworks were through (10 PM) and it was a looooong day. But I just loved it. Disney does an amazing job of bringing European flair and traditional and tasty cuisine from various countries to one circular route in the middle of sunny Florida.
I've been to Europe, and nothing compares, or should replace, the real thing. But if you don't have the money, the time, or the desire to travel a long way to a far off city, why not test it out Disney-style? It's not the same, but it's close enough for the family of four with a good imagination. Though these days, a trip to Europe might just be cheaper than Disney!

Before you decide, take a quick journey with me to several major European countries. This trip is free, I promise!

As an aside, did you ever wonder what EPCOT used to stand for? Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. But Disney doesn't publicize that. It's just Epcot now. Big "E" little "pcot".

The famous Epcot ball.

Oh, Canada!

Jolly good England!

No tour through Europe is complete without a Mickey Mouse puppet show!

C'est la vie, in France

The bustling markets of Morocco

The ancient traditions of Japan

Carolers in America

That's amore, in old Italy

Oktoberfest in Germany

Made in China

Fording in Scandinavia

Sunset over the countries

Epcot by night





fountains of Paris

Christmas around the World

Fireworks at the end of the night