I made a quick, and much too short trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last week. It was the first time I'd been there since the wildfires last year. As has been reported, the downtown area of Gatlinburg fared fairly well, but if you venture very far off the parkway going through town, you start to see a lot of rebuilding. Clearly the town was at serious risk.
One of my favorite short drives is the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. It's only 5.5 miles around, but I can get lost there for hours making images. It was a little early for a lot of foliage, and there was definite fire damage around the early part of the loop road, but Roaring Fork was flowing well and so I made a few water images I'm happy with. I also found a lot of Trillium growing along the lower half of the loop. Trillium are hallmark spring wildflowers in the park, commonly found in the mid to lower elevations along shaded creeks. Below are a few images from the trip.
I've been a photographer for over 30 years. I've been photographing professionally since 2011. Most of my regular followers know me as a nature photographer. The truth is, I love nature photography and have done quite a bit of it over the last 30 years. It's my heart, my stress-reliever, my sacred space. But as professional photography goes, it's never been the largest part of my business. Oh I've sold prints, decorated the inside of a few businesses, and even had published some of my nature work, but the lion's share of my photographic income has come from things I haven't showcased much on my website or written much about on my blog. Namely, people photography and product photography.
So as we turn the corner into 2017, I've decided to come out of the woods, so to speak, and make my website and blog more reflective of the photography that pays the bills. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, I need my website and blog to do a better job of marketing for me. So I need to show more of the kind of work clients actually hire me to create. Secondly, and more personally, I have non-nature images that I'm darned proud of. I should share those, I think.
So I've spruced up the look of my website and moved some of my other images to a more prominent position. If you haven't seen them, I'd encourage you to check out my People gallery, as well as some of the Food images I've done recently.
But don't worry; my best nature images are still here as well. Despite some strong advice from some respected mentors to delete it or move it to another site in an effort to streamline and focus my "brand," I just can't easily dismiss images I'm proud of or that show something I value as highly as I do. As a photographer, my brand is me, and my nature images are a part of me, so to slice off a part of me to fulfill some kind of artificially imposed "branding" is distasteful to me. I may well be running counter to Established Conventional Wisdom, but it won't be the first time. So if you go to my website and click on "Galleries," you'll see four of them.
My Portfolio gallery is a collection of what I consider to be my best images across all the work I've done. You'll see a little bit of everything here, and it's the gallery that scrolls on my homepage.
My Nature & Americana gallery is a broad category. If you click here, you'll find a few other galleries: Tennessee, Texas, Rustic Living, Americana, and Landscapes. I'd encourage you to spend some time with these images.
My Food gallery is just what you'd expect: images showcasing some mouthwatering tasties.
And finally, my People gallery showcases some of the portraits I'm most proud of. Some are traditional individual, couple, and family portraits, and some are business portraits.
So there it is. Think of this not as a new focus, but as moving the Shadow slider to the right a bit in an effort to reveal some things that were hidden in the dark. It's like HDR for my business. ;-)
If you're one of my long-time followers, I'm glad you're still with me. If you've just found me on the inter webs, I'm really glad you're here and genuinely hope you find something of value. And if you're local to the middle Tennessee area I now call home and need a fun, hard-working photographer to photograph you or your business, please contact me. I'd love to work with you!
I'm pleased to announce that going on now through Saturday, July 9, we're having a SUPER SALE! All photographic prints and gallery wraps ordered from my website are 25% off the listed price. All you have to do to get the discounted price is use the coupon code RLPSummer25.
If you're looking for a beautiful image showcasing nature's beauty to grace your home, I'd be honored if you check out my images and pleased as punch if you'd order something you like for your wall. I should also add that if you see a photo on one of my blog posts that you like (sometimes those don't make it to my galleries), let me know and I can make those available as well.
Thanks for your support, and have a fantastic Independence Day!
This past weekend, a few of us visited the Dallas Arboretum for their annual Autumn at the Arboretum event. I first heard about this event a couple of years ago, but it's taken me this long to work a trip into my schedule. This year they brought in 75,000 pumpkins to decorate the garden! It was a beautiful day - and by that, I mean not too warm, which is basically my standard for what constitutes a good day in Texas.
And there were a boatload of people, which made photography a challenge, at least for me, since I usually prefer to not have people in my photos. But I've learned the art of isolation, and so with a bit of patience, I can usually find a way to photograph what I want without the people.
For those of you in the area, the event will be going on through November 25th, so make plans to go.
Below are some of my favorites from Saturday.
I remember the day like it was yesterday. November 9, 1995. My wife had just given birth to our first, and as it turned out, only child. A stout little red-headed boy. We named him Nathan, which means "Gift from God." As the nurse placed him in my arms, I looked into his eyes, as he looked back into mine. And at that moment, my heart exploded with emotion and I was bound inseparably to this precious soul that God had entrusted to my wife and I. As tears streamed down my face, I said my first words to him, which I'll remember till my dying day: "Hello, little man."
That was nearly 20 years ago, and I can honestly say we named him correctly. In every way, he has been a gift and a blessing, and has become my absolute joy in life.
Every father I know prays his son will grow up to be a better man than he is. And as he prays that prayer, he also prays that God will give him the wisdom and the patience to raise him, hoping that his meager efforts, poured out with love, will produce something even more than what he's invested.
Over the years, our relationship has morphed from father to coach to counselor to friend. We've wrestled together, played together, fished together, hunted together, hiked together, occasionally argued, and rarely fought.
A friend of mine has compared Nathan to a Labrador Retriever. It's hard not to love a Lab. They're always good-natured, full of fun and mischief, and tend to make you happy just by being around. If you've ever been around a Lab, you'll understand what I mean. It's the rare person who meets Nathan and takes the time to get to know him who doesn't end up loving him to death.
His two great loves in life are music and dogs. He's got a gift with music, and plays trumpet, guitar (self-taught), and just about anything else he decides he wants to play. We suspect he'll find a way to make his living in a music-related field. And dogs - he's got a way with dogs too. I've never seen a dog he couldn't make up to. Give him half an hour and even the most skittish dog will be on its back and wagging its tail.
Nathan's generous to a fault and has one of the most tender and compassionate hearts I've seen. He loves with an openness and a tenderness that few possess. He hurts deeply when others hurt. As a result, hurting people find a friend in Nathan.
My son's not perfect, but then none of the rest of us are either. He's faced some challenges over the last few years and I've watched him go through some things I wouldn't want anyone to have to go through. But he's faced it all with courage, grace and dignity. Being a good man is not about being perfect (as my Dad always said, "They killed the only perfect man.") Being a good man is defined more by how you face your failures and what you make of them. Nathan's doing a better job of that than I would have.
Nathan is a gift from God, but he's also a child of God. A few years ago I had the privilege of baptizing him when he gave his life to the Lord. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.
I count being a father as one of the greatest joys of my life. Over the last 20 years, I've watched that baby that nurse placed into my arms as he's grown from a little wriggling giggler into a full-grown man. And now, looking back, my heart is full as I realize that my prayer all those years has been answered tenfold. Nathan is one of the finest men I know, and in many ways, he's a better man than I am. There are few people I trust more and who I'd more want to have on my side in a pinch. I've treasured every precious minute with him and look forward to watching him make his way in the world, marry and raise a family of his own. With his heart, he'll be a wonderful husband and a great father.
Proverbs 23:24 says "The father of a righteous son will rejoice greatly, and one who fathers a wise son will delight in him." I delight in you, Nathan, and couldn't love you more!
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