Tuesday, April 20, 2010

LIfe is a journey

"A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles" Tim Cahill

Apparently I have been on this journey called life for quite awhile now. At least that's what my body tells me when I get up in the morning. I have done a lot of stuff, seen tons of things and met a bunch of people. Every now and then, someone wanders into your life and becomes a part of it. And sometimes, they have to leave.

Denis Asprey left this past month.

I have only known Denis for ten years. I wish I had known him longer. He used to be a hippy and he lived in a commune for awhile. He was an artist, musician, biker, Boy Scout leader, and a tremendous family man. He was also one of the best friends anyone could ever want.

Denis always wore sandals. He wore them to work as a hardwood floor installer. He hiked in them, including climbing Mt. Whitney at 14,000 feet. He wore them to church, which he attended faithfully. He did wear moccasins on occasion.

He loved to teach the youth. He taught them about life. He taught them how to throw a tomahawk, shoot a bow and arrow, to enjoy the sunrise on a mountain peak.

He loved to ride his motorcycles. Including a real sweet Harley Springer Soft Tail. He would jump on it in the summer, put his great wife on the back and travel several thousand miles. He also had a Russian motorcycle that was copied from a 1940's BMW with a side car. He would throw a grandchild in the sidecar and give them a joyous ride around town.

Denis will be missed by a lot of people, including me. But he will never be forgotten and his influence to do good will be with me always.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Just a Cell Phone Battery

The other day a photographer friend of mine published a photo on his Facebook page. It was a beautiful shot of a pretty girl photographed at the beach. I commented on his page about his photo and said something like 'wow, you spent the day shooting a pretty girl and I spent the day shooting cell phone batteries'. He commented back, 'yeah, but you made more money'. It made me stop and think about that for a while.

Here is Stan's photo of Grace Bristol and my photo of a cell phone battery.
(to see more of Stan's work go to: http://www.stanliuphotography.com/)

Yeah, it does look like Stan had more fun. But the question it raised is am I in this for the money or do I have the passion that artists talk about? I became a photographer because it sounded interesting, fun, and kinda cool. I liked the idea of saying 'Yeah, I'm a photographer'! But by the time I graduated from college I was married, in debt and in a hurry to join middle class America.

Photography has been good to me. I have a nice house, three kids that we sent through college, a big red truck, a souped up Mustang and a hot rod Volkswagen Bus (see my blog entry: Buster goes to a show, Aug. 2008). Middle class America here I am.

I'm happy. I have a nice studio that I look forward to working in every day. I have clients. I do shoot a lot of boring things. Rarely pretty girls. But shooting boring things can be fun. They are a challenge, they have curves, corners, bright colors, reflective chrome, strange shapes and someone wants a pretty picture of them. I had a fellow photographer come into my studio years ago while I was shooting copy slides of some blueprints. He told me he wouldn't do that work, he only shoots advertising. Last I heard he was a salesman. So, I think I am creative, I am passionate about making my clients happy and I do work for money. I don't apologize. And I still feel good when I tell someone 'Yeah, I'm a photogra
pher'. Maybe I should get one of those snazzy khaki vests with all the pockets!

Here are a few samples of weird things made pretty in the studio. Of course thanks go to Lois the good stylist.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lois and Lon on a vacation!!!

This year, Lois and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary on the 9th of September. We were very busy in our studio and decided to celebrate the occasion by taking a trip in October. After looking at many locations we decided that we would like to go to Jackson, Wyoming. We chose this for a couple of reasons. Both of us had visited Jackson when we were kids and had memories of those trips. We also had wanted to purchase a piece of artwork for our anniversary. Jackson, just happens to be the third largest art market in the US. So this is what we did. Here are some of our vacation pictures. They aren't real good, because, well, I was on vacation. So there.

Here we are in Yellowstone National Park. It snowed.

This is the famous Elk Antler Archway in the center of town. There is one on each corner of the city park.

This is the Elk Preserve. Each winter 7000 Elk will winter in this preserve. It was right across the road from the cabin we stayed in. We did see three elk there one morning.

Here is our very dirty car parked behind our 'cabin' just outside of Jackson.
This is what we saw when we walked out the front door of our 'cabin'. There is a creek at the bottom of the picture out of the frame.

Here are some pictures of the Grand Teton Mountain. Grand Teton is supposedly from the French meaning large breast. It figures the french would name a mountain range that.

"Under any light, the mountains are wondrous and sublime. Cold and pulseless must be the heart of him who can view such a scene with indifference"
Alfred Jacob Miller (artist) 1837

This guy was right on the side of the road. I got out and took his picture with a 'normal' lens and then realized that he was about the size of our car and decided to retreat and put my car between him and me.

This is something we don't see much in San Diego. Big clouds and a flat plain.
Enough of the photos. Lois and I are a strange pair. We enjoy each others company every day at work and always have a good time when we travel. This trip was great. We ended up purchasing a beautiful bronze of a mountain lion in a tree.

Monday, October 5, 2009


The Mountain Men of the fur trade era (1815-1840) are an important part of the history of our country. They also would gather together once a year for several weeks and trade their furs, buy supplies and have one heck of a party. Many of the things they did at these rendezvous' relate to fun things that the Boys Scouts can really get into.

Each year Shelley, myself and a strange group of people put on the Blackfoot Fort Mountain Man Rendezvous for older Boy Scouts in our local San Diego Council. Following are some images from that great event:

These boys have earned great skinning knives by being the 'Best Dressed' mountain men among the scouts.

There is a lot of competition and skills that take place. Above is a mountain man teaching the young men how to set traps.

Much of the competition is team building. Of course we don't tell the scouts that they are learning team building. This is a travois race. They have to lash together these poles and drag an injured member of their team around a course.

These scouts are competing in the popular hawk throwing. Hawks being short for tomahawk.

They have a fun relay race in canoes. The object is to get around a course without getting their 'powder' wet. Powder being gunpowder.

This year we had 53 units register. About 350 participants. We allow the adults to participate in most of the activities. This is a rare event when we have one adult for every two scouts that come.

It takes a bunch of dedicated adults to put this kind of an event on. These folks are a combination of scouters and mountain man reenactors. See if you can spot yours truly and Shelley.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Merry Mary 2

Well, for the third time Mary has worked for us through the summer and then goes back to her real life. Usually she would head back to school at BYU. Last summer she skipped a semester and headed to Guatemala, where she volunteered at an orphanage for four months. This time she is headed for Buenos Aires, Argentina for eighteen months. She will be serving a mission for her Church; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon).

She will be missed. Usually it is in mid September that we start looking for her in the studio and she is gone. She has that ability to bring peace and happiness wherever she is. She also makes a great and forgiving target for the red rubber balls I keep in the studio for sneak attacks. Here is a few images from this summer:

This is Mary re-doing the tile floor in our kitchen area of the studio. It was cool when she stuck one of these 18" tiles to the bottom of her foot.

Above is Mary on a search and destroy mission to eradicate another spider ecosystem.

Below is Mary doing two jobs at once, painting a prop sign while babysitting Shelley's (Queen Denizen of the Digital Dungeon) baby.

This next photo was in my blog on the red shoe project. Not only did Mary have one of the best ideas, she become the model for the the Tight Rope Red Shoes.

She will be missed, but we are excited for her as she starts this next chapter of her life. People like Mary are hard to find and they always leave good memories.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Asphalt: not a tennis term

Boy what a bad week to have the landlord decide to repave our parking lot. We had an ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers, asmp.org) seminar scheduled in our studio for Saturday. One week ahead of time we get notice that we will not have access to our building on Saturday. Well, that's wasn't going to work! With one sorta polite email to our landlord, we had this guy form the construction company show up at my studio. Man, what a great guy. He jumped through hoops to get our parking lots finished ahead of schedule. So, here on Friday afternoon, I sat on the couch in our lobby and shot these marvelous action shots.

When a situation arises that has difficult ramifications for others, it is nice to find people that are willing to go that extra step to make things better. Our seminar was in trouble. How to get the 40+ people into the studio? This one supervisor took it upon himself to remedy our problem. People were able to park in our parking lot.

I like to think that this is the way that I personally act, but also the way we choose to run our business. Thanks to Patrick McDonald who gave a damn.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

If The Red Shoe Fits...

When we have an open day in the studio we work on an on going project involving a pair of red shoes. Yesterday, was the first day we had in several weeks. (This is a good thing!). We sit down as a group and talk about ideas for the red shoes. This particular idea was Mary's so it seemed fitting that she become the tight rope model. (Merry Mary, is our intrepid studio 'Jill of all trades'.) It also helped that she is the only one out of the five of us that the shoes fit.

The steel cable is about three feet off of the floor. First we tried having her sit on a ladder and that didn't work. So we placed a painters board across two ladders and that worked well. She is sitting about 6' off the ground. We shot about three dozen photos until we got the one that we liked. This is the finished image:

So far we have shot seven photos with the red shoes. Our plan is to shoot twelve different versions. I will post more on this blog in a couple of weeks.