I’m Over the Moon

Last week's just past full moon

Last week’s just past full moon – I’m over the moon about the response to the eff stop.

I don’t typically write posts about my blog, I kinda prefer to write about photography or to at least put images into some type of context. I hope you’ll forgive me this one time, and I’ll do my best to make this post at least partly about images and context.

Christmas Rose

A rose by any other name…It’s been sweet getting to know so many of you through the blogosphere.

I wrote my first post on this blog on May 20th of last year. I had just come home from an epic vacation and had tons of photos. I thought it was the perfect time to start a blog, I only opened a WordPress account to follow my brother’s blog and he kept leaving me spam-like comments on my empty blog, so I thought if I wrote something I would at least have one reader. I thought it would be fun to share photos and a bit of humor with him in the format he was communicating in. The next day I wrote my second post with an eye towards complete silliness. I had read no tutorials and had not even read any blogs except for my brother’s – heck, I didn’t even know what the Reader was. I did everything wrong. I used too many tags, I didn’t check my spelling, I used over 50 photos – in retrospect that post was a mess. About an hour later I got a nice email from WordPress about my post being “pressed” or something, how nice of them to let me know my post was live. I had no idea what that email was, I tossed it. I went to work the next day and casually commented to a coworker at lunch that I was getting a lot of email from my blog – how cool, I had heard from my brother that the WordPress platform was easier to connect on – it must be working. I noticed a lot of the comments offered congrats, how friendly – something about Freshly Pressed or FP’d, so I sent my brother a text:

20130402-210819.jpg

I clearly was clueless.

After texting Max, I googled Freshly Pressed and found this – there’s my photograph of a yonng elk in the top right corner:

Ahhhh - so that's what all the fuss was about.

Ahhhh – so that’s what all the fuss was about.

That day I had over 2000 hits – on a blog that was 2 days old. Of course I did nothing right at this point either. I was a bit shy about replying to comments. I accidentally replied to spam and not to real people – I was moderating a dozen comments at a time without even knowing what “moderating” was. I should have had the courtesy to reply to every comment, I was a bit reserved about entering into conversations – I didn’t really know what to say. I was afraid to empty my email in-box for fear of losing something I was supposed to keep up with. My post stayed on that front page for over a week. It was a wild ride.

I've been overwhelmed by my instant audience for my work - I appreciate you all.

I’ve been overwhelmed by my instant audience for my work – I appreciate you all.

Over the next few weeks I read a lot about how to manage a blog and have always wished I had done a better job of it from the start, by now I was embarrassed to reply (silly, I know) If I failed to respond to you, and you stuck around, I really appreciate it. I was a complete novice. I would be another month and another text conversation with my brother before I was keyed in to what the Reader was – it was only then that I really began to interact with other blogs. Another month passed before I wrote an “About” page.

This is my shy pup, Kirby.  He's timid about new things, al lot like me at the start of this process.

This is my shy pup, Kirby. He’s timid about new things, a lot like me at the start of this process.

A little over 140 posts later and I am really enjoying the interaction. I studied photography in college and have gotten more serious in the last few years. I have been diligently shooting almost every day for about the last 5 years so I have lots of images to work with and it’s been great talking about my work with you.

It's been a treat to introduce you to people like Mary Jane - a 99-year-old hiker through this blog.

It’s been a treat to introduce you to people like Mary Jane – a 99-year-old hiker through this blog.

This blog has helped me to organize my work, it’s given me focus. It’s allowed me to introduce you to my amazing 99-year-old neighbor, a herd of deer, a tougher-than-nails goldfinch, and a hummingbird who enjoys the rain.

20130402-212253.jpg

Bee-lieve me, I have enjoyed sharing my work and getting to know you.

The interaction is something I never anticipated and it has been really rewarding – it has pushed me to try new things. Last fall I read a post about NaNoWriMo, it got me thinking and it challenged me. Back in May when I pushed “publish” the first time, who would have believed that I would take on a writing challenge and that I would have 50,000 words in me? I started a second blog, The King of Isabelle Avenue, to post excerpts from my memoir on. It’s been a rich experience with just a few followers, but it has been more rewarding than I could ever have imagined.

The King of Isabelle Avenue has let me introduce you to my family and their history -   this picture of a hat with a wedding in the background is a more recent part of that history.

The King of Isabelle Avenue has let me introduce you to my family and their history – this picture of a hat with a wedding in the background is a more recent part of that history.

I have gotten into a rhythm – a couple of photo posts a week and a King of Isabelle post every 10 days or so. Initially I would look at my more recent photos and see if I could find a common theme and sometimes that worked out pretty well, gradually I moved more towards shooting something with a post in mind, occasionally I did a little of both.

Photography is about more than mechanics - it's about a point of view - I'm grateful to share my point of view with you.

Photography is about more than mechanics – it’s about a point of view. I hope to find unique points of view to share with you.

More recently I have worried about keeping things fresh. I challenged myself to shoot birds last year and I have posted dozens of times on the topic. I wondered if you would tire of my obsession with cardinals. Still, my favorite posts are those that feel like serendipity – when something just comes together.

20130402-212956.jpg

Trying new things and sharing them with you has made me a better photographer.

That happened again a couple of weeks ago. I was supposed to have a working lunch but the other party cancelled. I grabbed my keys and headed to my car to run grab some fast food. I stood in the parking lot and it hit me, I didn’t want junk food – I turned around and decided to see if I could kick out a post in the 20 minutes I had left of my lunch hour. I started to write a post I was going to call “Deer on Pine Mountain”. As I started to tell my story the title sounded stupid and boring. I took the post in a different direction and wrote this story about my encounter with an old friend on the mountain. When I hit publish I knew I had shared an experience that was special to me, if no one else. Less than an hour later I got that email – this time I did have a clue about what it meant to be Freshly Pressed.

20130402-220321.jpg

No need to text Max this time…

The last couple of weeks have been wonderful – I have enjoyed meeting new people and have done my best to interact with everyone who took the time to comment – even if it was in another language. I saw my friend on the mountain again last night – I hope to share more stories of my white nosed friend with you as the weather warms up.

To those of you who started the conversation with me – Honie, Paula, Michelle, Elyse, Jackie, and Diana – you got me going, you found me before I figured out how to find you, you showed me the ropes. Thanks so much! (Seriously – check out their blogs!)

The bottom line is this – I was incredibly lucky right out of the shoot. I am grateful to those who followed from that early post, and to those who have joined the party in the last few weeks – now that I have written that obligatory Freshly Pressed post, I will get back to taking photos and telling stories. I am checking out the blogs of everyone who commented or followed – it’s taking some time, but I am finding some amazing new blogs to follow.

I’ll sign off for now – there are photos out there to be taken – this shutterbug is ready for another adventure!

Max the Second

I’m only here because of a Fruity Chicken.

The esteemed author of the Fruity Chicken

The esteemed author of the Fruity Chicken

My brother Max started a blog about raising chickens and fruit trees in the arid desert of our native Las Vegas about a year ago. It’s a sweet, funny, and sometimes technical look at what it takes to make things grow in that hostile environment. I followed him via email until he migrated to WordPress and opened an account to make commenting here easier. Of course I was clueless about WordPress and accidentally started a blog and didn’t write anything. Max started leaving me snide remarks about the amazing content of my empty blog that sound startlingly like the stuff the spam bots send us with great regularity. After enough pushing I finally started a blog aimed squarely at sharing my photos with one person on the planet – Max.

Me and Max

Me and my “little” brother Max

I’m the oldest of my three siblings – Max came second. Max was named after our beloved Grandfather – Max the first. He has always worn the “II” in his name like a badge of honor.

I was thrilled at the idea of having a little brother, but Max has never been content in the role of the younger sibling. At about 14 he passed me by in stature, and his demeanor became that of an older brother. Sometimes teasing, sometimes bossing, sometimes protecting.

Snickering Siblings

Snickering Siblings

Max and I had lots of adventures growing up. He was my first playmate. We explored every inch of Isabelle Avenue on our bikes, we played cowboys and indians, and he and our neighbor Paul did their best to blow a few things up. When I was in high school I started working for the Stagehand’s Union – Max was right behind me.

Stylin' in the 80's

Stylin’ in the 80’s – backstage at the MGM

When our Union was locked out in 1984 he and I manned a food bank for union members and cruised the picket lines making sure everyone was OK – he had a hopped-up Ford Bronco that we zipped up and down the strip in checking on our brothers and sisters.

This is a drawing I did of Max using the stamps at the Stagehand's Union offices.

This is a drawing I did of Max using the stamps at the Stagehand’s Union offices.

As he grew into a man I saw in him the best parts of my mom and my Grandpa – loyalty, responsibility, wisdom, compassion, humor – he worked to make a stable home and family that was very different that the one we grew up in. My grandfather used to marvel at how hard he worked and what a good father he had become. I have always admired his earnestness and commitment to make a good life for his wife and his boys. They have all grown to be the kind of men any father could be proud of.

One of my favorite things to do with Max is to go out into the desert in a Jeep – there is no one I trust more behind the wheel. We have made a couple of trips to the northern Nevada site of a mining claim my grandparents worked in the 60s and 70s. The “Diggins” is located about 60 miles from the nearest paved road. I made this video for him after a trip we took with my nephew Brian summer before last. We both had a tough time after my father passed away, but this trip brought us back together in a very healing way. We listened to this song about a hundred times on the trip so it seemed the natural background for our experiences. I only wish I had been brave enough to record during the really deep water crossings. I loved the adventure, but I loved my camera just a little too much to risk it.

I call this “The best tank of gas ever” and it was. It was a blast to just be together in the wilds of the land we grew up in. We never got to the Diggins – the late spring snows in that year made it impossible, but we had an amazing trip. The song makes me laugh because we are only “southern” in the sense that we grew up in southern Nevada.

Me and Max

Me and Max

All this reminiscing to say that today is Max’s birthday. No one’s known me longer or better.

Thanks for pushing me into this blogging thing, thanks for always being there for me. You’re the best man I know – I love you.

Happy Birthday!