Friday, January 27, 2012

Meeting My Neighbors and Taking Their Portrait

I've lived in the same place for nine far as I remember. I mean, I'm pretty sure it's been nine years.  When I travel, I rent my home out, but I have been living here the majority of the nine years.  Besides a few select neighbors, I have no idea who my neighbors are or what their life is like.  I see interesting people walk by and sometimes I wonder about who they are.  There are a few who walk by everyday like clockwork and I have a nickname for them, based on their style. I always look forward to "pirate" walking by and I hope to get his portrait one day.

When I'm on the road, I don't mind approaching strangers since they will never see me again most likely but when I'm in my own neighborhood, I tend to avoid meeting anyone that is within viewing distance.  It could be that I am pretty shy or might not have the energy to talk to anyone, or perhaps both.

One of my photography instructors told me in front of the class that I spend too much time in my head.  He is right.  Then I thought..."How does he know this?"

I tend to think and think about things and ideas until it drives me crazy and the only way to get it out is to do it.  Most likely this isn't the brightest of ways to motivate but it seems to have served me well for the most part.  I have to admit that sometimes it takes someone saying something to get me to take action.

I decided that it's time to talk to people that live around me.  The other night I went for a walk and smiled and said hello to everyone I passed by.  It's a fact, smiling is contagious.  For someone who usually puts her earphones in for a walk, I was surprised on how easy it is to meet people.  Not only meet them, but each person I met allowed me to take their portrait.  Sometimes I would start with a smile and a compliment while other times I didn't know what to say so I just blurted out, "may I take your portrait?" Not only did they say yes but many were flattered I asked and one woman was so thankful that I talked to her and said hello.  How could you have a bad day after an experience like that?

Do you know your neighbors?  I challenge you to say hello and introduce yourself.  I bet you will be glad you did.  Here are some of my neighbors I met on my walk yesterday.  I intend to continue to meet as many neighbors as I can in the next few months.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Bombay Beach Adventure

If you have never heard of Bombay Beach, you might think the name would be fitting to a place that is similar to a tropical paradise.  You would be right, except that it no longer is the thriving community that it once was in the mid century.

I've always been curious about the Salton Sea and the surrounding areas and decided to take a visit a few years ago to wander around neighborhoods and see what I could find.  As I turned the corner to the community of Bombay Beach, it was as I imagined it to be.  Very few of the homes are lived in today.  When I visited a few weeks ago, I heard an explosion and once I headed in the direction of the smoke, I noticed that one of the trailers was engulfed in flames.  I asked a passerby what happened and if everyone was ok and he said that the owner crossed the wires to the propane tank, and he's he walked by me and disappeared around the corner.

I came to visit the town alone with my dog, Max.  At the time of the explosion, we were exploring abandoned homes and walking around the streets.  Because I was in my car near the fire, one neighbor came out and yelled at me to get away.  I decided to drive the car to a safe distance and I parked it while I jumped out and headed to the fire with my camera in tow, not really knowing what I was doing.  My natural instinct was to photograph what was happening at that moment.  Most residents were in their homes with a few people standing around.  I heard sirens as trucks were approaching to help.  Right before the fire truck arrived, I man pulled up and jumped out of his car 50 feet from me and yelled, "hey you!! Better take that camera away!" I slowly put the camera down and ignored him while he was standing there staring at me while making a gesture of his hand slitting his throat then pointing at me.  At this time, I was the only person standing out in the open so I decided it might be best to head back to the car, which I did.

Eventually, the fire was put out and nobody was hurt.  I don't know the entire story of what happened, but I am still intrigued by this area.  After this visit, I watched the documentary, "Bombay Beach" on Netflix.  It portrays life in this area pretty well.  I would recommend it.  Also, Anthony Bourdain took a trip here a few years ago and ate at the Ski Inn.  I have yet to eat there, but I plan to go back.  Believe it or not, I would love to live here for a while to document the neighbors.  In the meantime, here are a few photos from that day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Brothers" Receives Juror's Award By Henry Horenstein For Family Dynamics Exhibit

I was so thrilled to learn that "Brothers" was selected by photographer and juror, Henry Horenstein  for the Family Dynamic Exhibition at The Kiernan Gallery in Lexington, Virginia especially since I admire his work so much.

In his Juror Statement, Henry writes, "For most people, a good likeness of their subject is good enough, and there's nothing wrong with that. We want to see what Uncle John and Grandma Bea look like and we want them to look their best, if possible. But I think it gets a little more complicated for the "serious" photographer, whether professional or enthusiast. We want a good likeness usually, but we also want the photo to say more about the person (or persons) than simply what they look like. This is the reason I chose Alison Turner's image of siblings for the Juror's Choice Award. To me, it shows its subjects in good light - carefully framed and with excellent lighting and technique. But it also suggests the complicated relationship - close but wary - built into so many family relationships. "

The show will run at the gallery from February 6th through March 4th. To read the entire statement, click HERE.


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