Category Archives: Random

The Songs of My World

Reba and Kelly Clarkson in 2006 at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Reba and Kelly Clarkson in 2006 at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Today’s task is another free write session with a target subject. The task is to list three songs that have had a lasting impact in your life. Ok, Writing 101, my question is why just three? Geez Louise, Doc! They’ve also asked us to free write. I don’t necessarily think the intent for the free write session was to write about the songs. Though, I admit, it’s possible. That’s what I am going to do. I think a few others may do this too.

Before I begin, picking the first two songs was quite easy. The third? Not so much. Very hard to choose only one more.

Lord, I Lift Your Name on High: Written by Founds and Rick Doyle

I learned this song at church camp as a teenager and it had stayed with me through the years. It has brought me comfort and peace countless times. I sing to myself when I am happy, stressed, or when my soul needs comfort. I always go back this song.

She Will Be Loved: Maroon 5

When this song was released, I was 24. I didn’t know it at the time, but the transition to becoming an adult and all its character building traits were about to kick my ass. Seriously. I found myself passing the time on the midnight shift at a manufacturing company by singing this song to myself. It was loud. No one could hear me. I didn’t care if they could. At the time, I only knew the chorus, but it helped me get through the long, tedious nights of the midnight shift. I bought the album shortly after its release and 10 years later it remains one of my favorites.

Springsteen: Eric Church

This is another song I fell in love with while at a baseball game (click here to read more about that). I’ll admit this song hasn’t really been out long enough to have a “lasting” impact, but it’s a great song. There’s a line in the song: “funny how a melody sounds like a memory” that simply resonates with me. It’s a true statement. It’s a great song.


The Place I’d Rather Be


I stand at the waters’ edge while the last of the tide’s energy splash over my feet. My newly painted toenails match the sea foam colors of the water. Over my shoulder, children screech with laughter and joy as they charge full speed into the calm, warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Some are content playing chase with the breaking waves, giggling with joy from the ceaseless game. The bigger kids covered from head to toe with beach gear including hats, goggles, swim trunks, and sunscreen — SPF 50 — charge the gentle waters with boogie boards in tow while mom and dad setup the umbrellas and chairs for a day in the summer sun.

My wet feet collect the small white grains of sand for which this area of the Gulf is famous. The cloth material on my chair matches my toes and the waters before me. Such a beautiful, rich color. As I settle into my chair and reach for my sunglasses, I find peace in the music of my surroundings. The music from the waves reaching the shore, children laughing and enjoying the water, and the sound of the wind as it reaches my ears and pushes my ponytail sideways. It’s all music.

This is my room with a view. It’s a never ending view. It is my peace; my happy place.

The Free Write Session


My lunch today.

My lunch today.

I’ve set my timer on my phone to start a 20-minute countdown for the free write. I am very concerned about what I’ve gotten myself into with this WordPress Writing 101 Blog, or what ever it’s called. I thought it would be a good idea to try this, but as life happens there’s another project at work that will take up my time during the same time frame as this challenge. My hope is that this blogging challenge will help me with both my writing skills (which are pretty weak right now) and break up the day for a little bit while I work this project. Let’s hope.

My subconscious must have known that this writing challenge started today. I had a dream last night that I was writing. The words were coming beautifully and flowed freely and easily from my brain to my hand. I was actually, physically writing in this dream. In my dream, it seemed so easy to free write …. now? Nope. Not too easy, but that’s challenge.

Six minutes down … Fourteen to go.

Pause. Nothing. Silence apparently. There are sentences in my brain. It’s not like there’s not up there, even though some may disagree. I am looking at a photo of my mom. I miss her. It’s been almost three half years since she passed. I’m sure within this challenge I’ll write about her, but not today. Today is about a free write. I need to move on.

The weather here is strange this year. It’s June and it’s not hot yet. Don’t worry. It will be. It’s only a matter of time before walking to the car covers you in a hot, sticky, sweaty mess. Yep. Welcome to the South, ya’ll!

Eleven and a half minutes down …. Eight and a half to go.

The water in the kitchen is running and my co-worker is typing on her keyboard. Silence. Both stop simultaneously. The phone should ring. It should have already done so. Why? Because I’m in the middle of something else. That’s how it always happens at work, right? Yes, I’m at work. I’m at work and I’m writing a free write and thinking about what I will eat at lunch. Sometimes it works like that.

More silence. I should turn the radio on, but I won’t.

I am still thinking about lunch. I’m thinking I should have gone to get food already, but I am challenging myself. I am free writing, or so, that’s what I think I’m doing. I took a literal interpretation of the assignment today. I hope I don’t do that the whole time. I might. What was the twist? Oh well, I don’t think it matters.

I gotta have a photo on here, OH! I will take a photo of my lunch! That’ll go great with this one.

Time! Pencils down (not literally.)


The Archived Photos

I searched and searched for some more of my Main Street photos for a part 2 post, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Instead, I came across some old photos that I had forgotten about. I spent a few hours searching and browsing through about 20 discs full photos and decided to share these with you. I’ll admit these photos are not timely and have no purpose other than to show them to you. I had forgotten about a few of these photos, while others I could not locate when I actually needed them. Isn’t that how it always goes?



The First Sentence

PJ Book2

My ninth grade English teacher challenged me. She forced me to think outside of the box — outside of my very small-minded comfort zone — and open my mind. She forced to me answer  questions in which the response I gave was neither satisfying or, at times, tolerant of others’ opinions. Her assignments taught me there was more to the world than the two mile trek from my home to school. There were assignments I didn’t fully understand until I became an adult. There were assignments I still don’t understand — even as an adult. There were assignments to this day I am still proud to read.  This is profound — to me — because there are photography gigs from last month I can’t remember, but I can recall a handful of assignments from nearly 20 years ago! Needless to say, her teaching methods had a lasting impact.

One of the more confusing tasks was what I’ve grown to call the first sentence assignment. We were to choose 10 books and list the first sentence of the book and explain why we chose that book. In theory, I believe the task was associated with dramatic writing and first impressions. I think she was teaching us how a well written single sentence can captivate a reader well enough to continue reading although the subject may not be all that captivating. Personally, it forced me to think. Why was this important to me? What about this moved me?

As I was reading through the many blogs I follow, one post jogged my memory of this assignment. A blogger, Andrea Badgley, posted quotes from a book (one of many it seems) she reads. For some reason, that post spoke to me and reminded me of that long ago assignment.

There’s no way I could remember all 10 of those books on the decades-old list, but I wanted to share the ones I knew were listed. If you had to do this assignment which books would you list and why? It’s a lot harder to list than you may first think.

From 1994’s List:

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor: “Little Man, would you come on? You keep it up and you’re gonna make us late.”

The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton: “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”

The Giver” by Lois Lowry: “It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.”

The Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 (New International Version)

Sati” by Christopher Pike: “I once knew this girl who thought she was God.”

(The photos on this post are of a notebook created and shared by a group of Pearl Jam fans who have, over time, bonded through through this book, their love of the band, and the friendships forged from both. I was able to see this book and have it explained to me in detail last year. I took a few shots of thinking I would write a blog post about it. I didn’t get around to writing the post, but I thought the photos fit here. These are dedicated, long-term Pearl Jam fans who are moved by the members’ music, writing, and causes. Just as the first sentence of a book can speak to us.)

PJ Book

The Camera Question

This is an example of a point and shoot camera (the red one) and a DSLR.

This is an example of a point and shoot camera (the red one) and a DSLR.

As freelance photographer I get this question all the time: “I want a new camera. What do you recommend?”

I follow it up with a question. “Well, what do you want the camera  for? What do you want to take pictures of with this new camera?”  The responses vary from pictures of my __________ (kids, pets, flowers, etc.), but it’s always followed by a long pause. A hesitation. It’s usually one of  two things: they weren’t expecting me to ask a question or they hadn’t given any thought as to why they wanted a new camera.

For most, a new camera is only a new camera. When you ask a photographer what camera do you recommend it’s like asking a movie critic what movie to watch or a chef what’s for dinner. We need more information to answer it properly. With that in mind, I’ve created a few tips that will help you pick out a new camera. These tips are based on conversations I’ve had over the years. I’ll still be more than happy to provide a recommendation, but these tips should also help you narrow down your choices and help you make a more educated decision.

1. Seriously. Why do you want the new camera?
Be honest. Do you have a baby on the way and want to capture all the wonderful and cute memories? Perfect. New puppy? Sounds good. Are you simply replacing a broken camera? Knowing why you want the camera will help you figure out the options on the camera.

2. What kind of camera do you want?

Admittedly, you are asking me so you don’t have to give this question any thought. I recognize that, but that’s not how I roll. We are going to talk to this out. Why? Because I’m the photographer and I said so! All joking aside, there is a purpose to talking it out. There are several types of cameras and in order to give my best recommendation I need more information.

Let’s talk type. In its basic form there are two kinds of mainstream consumer cameras: point and shoot and DSLR (digital single-lens reflex). A point and shoot is just what it sounds like. You point at something and you take a picture of it: point and shoot. DSLR are the digital versions of cameras with mirror reflective abilities as well as removable lens. (A removable lens is always the rule, but it is the majority.)  The single lens reflex refers to the components on  the inside of the camera where a mirror captures the image and reflects the light to the viewfinder. In the past, the light that image captured was exposed to film creating a negative. Today, that mirrored image is converted into a digital file. The DLSR provides a higher level of control in regards to light, shutter speed, and other variable settings compared to a point and shoot. (There’s new technology that doesn’t require a mirror and allows for the same type of controls and speed capabilities as the DSLR.)

How much control do you want over the camera?  If you’d rather let the camera do the thinking and really just want to take pictures at parties and social gatherings then a point shoot is probably more your style.

Do you want to change settings? There are higher end point and shoots that will allow to change and control some settings. But if you answered yes to one or both questions below I do not recommend point and shoots cameras. Period.

Are you going to be taking photos in low light environments?
Are you taking any action shots?

Now that you’ve figured out the type let’s talk price.

3. How much are you willing to spend?
If you plan ahead and think this through you will be better off in the long run knowing how much you can or want to spend. We are all guilty, myself included, of spending too much on an item. By setting a budget you keep from over spending, falling for a sales pitch, or settling for the wrong camera.

Once you’ve determined your budget and the camera you want.  Research it. There are plenty of sites that offer deals on cameras. If you’ve got the time, try to avoid purchasing it from the first place you look. I know it’s easier said than done. On large purchases like this, do some price compairisons.  It will be worth your time.

If you will ask yourself these questions you will be better informed and make a better decision about your new camera. I hope these tips have helped a little bit. Knowing what you want and how much you are willing to pay for it whether it’s a camera, a new car, or the latest gadget for a Christmas present will always make you a better consumer.

In celebration!

This is month Hannah and Harley will celebrate its one year birthday as a blog! For those who are already following us, thank you! You are already entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card to Starbucks! (Make sure your email is update and accurate. That’s how I will notify the winner.) Actually, because you are a loyal reader you are already entered into the drawing twice!  From now through the end of the month those who start following this blog will receive one entry for the gift card. Good luck! 🙂 To follow Hannah and Harley, enter your email in the space provided called “Follow Blog Via Email.” Yes, it’s that easy. If you already have a WordPress account, simply click the follow button.

The Frisbee Dogs

As part of halftime entertainment at the Arkansas State University double-header tonight, ASU presented The Frisbee Dogs. I had a blast shooting these dogs. It was tons of fun and the whole crowd enjoyed it. I hope you enjoy the photos.