You are the Author…

…Write your own story…

Do it clean, do it fair, do it sober, but get out there and do it.

There is a difference between sight and vision. The vision is what you see within. Sight is what others see on the outside. One sees with the heart, the other sees with the eyes.

What is in your vision? If only at first in your mind, begin to master your destiny. You are the author…

 

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Your Dreams Through My Eyes

My camera and I, we may seem like a lonely duo, but we are actually just as excited for you, as you are to be living your moment. We aren’t anything fancy, and the lens doesn’t stick out 24″ and require a gym membership to hold it up, but we love what you’re doing, whether it be running barrels, watching your 6 year old’s first lead line class on a sassy pony or the gentle 30 year old babysitter who once again has a job, riding a bucking horse (most are intentional professionals, but others are a display of horse attitude at the worst possible moment), or the daring attempts at bull riding (there’s only one way off of a bull, and it rarely happens gracefully).

At my desk, I look at all of your faces, and I relive those moments of intensity, laughter, frustration, and the occasional defeat. File after file is full of heart warming moments. You are more than my business, you are my adventure as well. I’d love to get to know more of you.

Long after an event is forgotten by most, it is still on my desk like a giant digital photo album, hoping that those of you who have purchased pieces of a moment in your life, have printed your photos, so that someday you can show a child or new in-law what you once did. We all love our pictures from days gone by, pre-digital. My camera and I are there, capturing your past to take into the future.

When you see me quietly sitting on the sidelines, know that I’d love to meet you. You’re welcome to come and introduce yourself. Let me pet your curious horse (they usually like to nuzzle my camera), let me take a picture of you and your friends or a picture of those new, custom spurs you saved two years to purchase.

Tell me your story. Did you overcome something and find your courage? Are you riding on behalf of a family member you lost? What inspires you? If it matters to you, it matters to me, and it’s double the enjoyment to see your activities

through your eyes as well.

Another Man’s Trash…

From junk heaps on the side of the garage, to landfills and junk yards, we’ve all seen consumerism left behind. We call it junk, garbage, trash and a plethora of other synonyms for the word, “waste.” Most of it goes by without any thought and it gets heaped up in dumps, whether large or small.

But, what if you are a wanderer? Or a collector of treasures? Then, you understand that there is beauty in the abandoned. A place where progressive action hasn’t wiped out history can be a place that someone like me gets to cash out. I don’t find myself in modern landfills, but I do find myself in places old enough to have been replaced by the up and coming newest trends.

Rarely do I take a sampling of my finds, because I prefer photos, and to leave things be, for a day when another stumbles upon my trail of treasure. Archaeologists a thousand years from now will need something to find, right? But, with photos, I can take something to share with others that may never be where I’ve been.

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A pickup abandoned in a field thirty years prior, a piece of tin blown many miles in a Colorado wind storm, an old brown medicine bottle, even a building that is falling down, gives way for a roaming imagination to place a new perspective into the atmosphere. In that moment, it may not be a functioning object, but it is beautiful to someone that sees it differently.

Attitude is within. You can treasure something unkempt, and polish it again to give it a new life, or you can sneer at its unpleasant appearance and toss it to the side and never give it another thought. The choice is yours. One man’s trash, isn’t always trash at all….

 

A Cowboy’s Identity

If you’ve ever been in the presence of a group of cowboys, you may think they’re all the same. Boots, jeans, long sleeved shirt and hat. They are a stand alone culture, that have survived style trends through the decades.

At first glance, to the untrained eye, they do mostly appear the same. Until you see them in their element, maybe they are all the same? Nah… look a little closer… They are as different as different gets.

Many a cowboy define their unique identities in an unexpected place; their feet. Not their boots per se, but their spurs. There are more styles of spurs than there are cereal choices at the grocery store, and most outside of cowboy culture have no idea.

Some proudly wear their granddads, passed down from one generation to the next. These were likely custom made, and carry the family ranch brand etched in them. They have survived the same feedlot and corrals for many years, because like the ranch, they were built right the first time and are meant to withstand the changing times.

Others belong to horsemen, also custom, and you may see the name engraved on the side, as an advertisement of the trainer who is riding horses at a show. Many of those are like tattoos, and although the body they’re on is similar, the art work is unique and one of a kind. They have inlays of silver or copper, situated in a way that defines the person atop the steed.

Then there are roughstock rider spurs, which aren’t always fancy, but they’re built to with stand a 2100 pound bull or 1000 pound horse from collapsing them, if the rider gets stepped on. They have different pitch than the spurs of other riders, to help with the sheer force of riding bucking stock. Their rowels have a lot to say about them as well.

Vaqueros, buckaroos, rodeo, horsemen, equestrians, ranch hands, cattlemen (if they ride), and everything in between, has a defining character, and it’s on their feet. It’s their spurs, spur straps and rowels.

If you ever see some that really catch your eye, take a moment to ask that cowboy about their choice of metal. You might be surprised what kind of story is behind the dirt caked steel, and it might be a story that person loves to tell. I have yet to find a rider of any type ask me not to photograph their foot style. They are proud of what they wear, and always for a good reason.

Not many things in this life are permanent, but quite often the money spent on a custom set of spurs is a deeply considered and permanent investment, to explain that person’s character without words. They are an unspoken code of the culture, that easily says, “We are not all the same.”

Emptiness

How many of us have had days where we feel like we have nothing left? If you so desire, and you’re feeling down, look into your hands. Are they empty? Look around and find something wonderful to hold. A delicate flower, a pretty rock, someone’s groceries that is struggling to get them into their car. There is always something that can fill the empty places, all you have to do is look. Your hands may be empty for a reason, and they may be meant to be filled in a way you hadn’t expected.DSC01313_1

Retirement Community

My daughter had just moved to a farm in Northeastern Colorado when she told me to bring my camera, when we came to visit and see where our son-in-law would be working.

The drive took us through many farm road gates, past the stubble of harvest, beyond the cattle, in a big circle to a long shed. Jordin was so excited as she led the way around the corner, to show me “The Retirement Community” at rest in there.

I’ve seen a great many pickups and tractors resting on ranches and farms, and most don’t get to use up barn space. They get hauled to the field, lined up and forgotten, until some guy driving down the road drools over the 64 Ford sitting there doing nothing, pulls in and asks a rancher, “Would you be interested in selling one of your old pickups?” To which the farmer or rancher is most likely going to say, “No. Not for sale.” Yes, I’ve seen many of those rows of pickups, tractors and farm implements.

But, this one was different. There are several in a shed, tucked in their spaces with farm rubble all around to keep them cozy. My favorite is the old Oliver tractor with the Pontiac hood ornament. I’d guess it was a farmhand joke, as he dreamed of a smooth suspension and weather tight cab, to get through harvesting and planting, and getting out of the sun, wind and rain.

These machines have earned their rest. Their steering wheels surely filled with stories of farm life during their many years of providing extra man power to the ever growing needs of the community. Sun up to sun down, sometimes under moonlight, they would go, working to get the seed planted, or the harvest in.

It was hard to walk away, as the sun began to fade for the night. They would sleep once again, only to overlook the farm ahead of them the next day, and cherish the life they once lived.

We can only hope that we will not be tucked away and forgotten, but that someone will come along and enjoy our stories again. As these pieces of equipment have done, we have also lived. Bigger and newer may be more functional, but older and smaller will always have more character. Don’t lose the elderly before they have a chance to share their stories. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.

Dirty Your Boots

What are your dreams?

You can hope from the grandstands of life, but you’ll never have a chance to be a contestant until you step into the arena. Will you walk through that gate and step into the sand? Will you walk the walk to get to the chutes?

Maybe you aren’t ready to ride just yet. That’s okay. Get in there anyway and stay on the ground. Breathe the air, feel the dirt, listen to the sounds, and observe from a new place of perspective. Don’t just buy your ticket to watch, earn your right to ride.

If it’s really in your heart, you’ll never tire of working for it. It won’t matter how slow you get there, as long as you’re learning from every contestant ahead of you as you make your way from thought to action. Don’t just think it, begin to be it.

One thing is certain…

        “You can only get there, if you get your boots dirty…”

The Problem with Saddles

Have you ever looked at a saddle from a philosophical perspective? There’s more there than meets the eye. Maybe the horse isn’t the problem? It might be the saddle, but not necessarily the way it fits the horse.

A saddle is this: the mediator between equine and equestrian. It is the piece that’s bottomside fits the steed, top side fits the rider, and makes them a working unit. It connects the foundation (horse) and the mind (rider).

The side that connects to the horse is fairly simple, I guess because a horse is a horse, with little need for variation, except the obvious for high withers and shorter backs. Overall, they’re all the same. Rounded shape, covered in fleece.

The human side is far more complicated. Although a human is a human, and every saddle has a seat, the topside contains the personality. It says who you are and what you do.

They say you’ll know a horse by its rider, which is true in some senses, but let’s get to the connection.

It is the visible half that shows just how much a person is capable of overthinking, especially where western saddles are brought into the light.

There is a saddle horn for every rider. Ropers need a strong base, cutters need a thin shaft, barrel racers need a top that has a good fit for holding during turns. Vaqueros and buckaroos have ‘dinner plate’ horns and I don’t know why. Then, there’s the show saddle that has a horn that’s not to be touched while showing, so why is it there at all? Plenty of choices for horns, which aren’t all listed, but you get the idea.

Then, there’s that seat. Every saddle has one and every man, woman and child has a tush to sit in it with. We the people also added touches to that as well, adding to the basics. Deep seat, high back, trail, calf roping, team roping, reining, ranch, barrel racing, narrow, wide, and inch sizes ranging from 12 to 20. Little butt, big butt and everything in between butts. A size for all, literally and figuratively.

Then, we come to the appearance. Standard or roughout leather, floral or basketweave pattern, silver, bling or plain, no leather but nylon. Black, brown, natural, pink, green or purple zebra print. On and on and on go the options in this section. If you can think it, there’s someone to make it happen for you. Some even have media holders built in.

Stirrups, skirts, cantles, fenders, etc. There’s something for everyone. That list and the costs are endless. It comes down to this, “What’s in your imagination and your wallet?”

But, flip a saddle over and they’re all basically the same. A horse is a horse. Their wants and needs are few. They need a comfortable fit and for the human atop to be competent. That’s really not much to ask for. A horse is versatile, yet essentially they all think alike. Easy.

Every saddle has two things. A foundation or the commonly unseen, and a personality or the visible. Think about that for awhile. It is inanimate, but very distinct in its connection to human desire.

The next time things aren’t going quite right, take a break from what you want, and focus on what is going to get you there. Remember, the saddle is nothing more than the mediator. If it isn’t working, remove it and connect with the base. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable and ride bareback, you will suddenly discover that the horse is still a horse, with or without a saddle. The human on the other hand, must suddenly be very clear on whether all that visible personality really proved any sort of skill. You can’t overthink when you ride without a saddle. Either you are balanced, or you’re not, although it can be learned by putting the saddle to the side for awhile.

Without good balance, nobody is a true horseman or woman. And that thought can be taken into every facet of life. Balance before destiny. Money can’t buy skill, although it can pay for a good teacher. The problem may not be the horse at all. It may very well be the saddle.

Welcome 2017!

Last night was a rough stock event at Crossroads Arena in Penrose, CO. I met some intimidation when I got there; a veteran rodeo photographer. Fortunately, he was friendly. A man named Tim Brown. And, he was kind enough to share some insight, plus his story.

We chatted for awhile, mostly discussing the lighting. Mechanics discuss torque and big blocks, photographers discuss lighting and ISO’s. It’s a thing, seriously. None the less, for a rodeo contestant that arena is a dream, but for a photographer, the lighting is a test of skill, patience and mostly luck. 

I don’t really believe in luck, so I took my humble self to the corner and prayed. “God, help me. Please.” I had one hour to set my camera as best as I could for what I was facing. High speed action in a low light setting. 

It dawned on me while I was pushing buttons and doing test shots, that as I’ve pressed into new territory during 2016, ive spoken those words over and over, “God, help me. Please.” And, He has. 

By nature, I’m an introvert and am by no means the person you will find zip-lining for a thrill. It took hours of pep talk, for my family to get me on a tube in the river this past summer. I like the familiar. Period. This job I do has meant I have learned something; if I want to work, I have to step into every scenario alone. Scared or not, saying, “God help me. Please.”

Today, is a new day and the beginning of a new year. There will be many of those prayers coming up, because I have no intention of letting go of my dreams. Every ounce of me is uncomfortable. But, a plan is in front of me, and all I can do is, go do it. 

I’ve now met enough photographers in my field to realize, I can only learn more from them, because they are so very skilled. They have more experience than I do, so I listen to every word they say. A free education is the best one. It’s through me walking past my fears and taking advice from these wonderful people, that stepping into 2017 means I’m going in a little better than I was yesterday.

If I can do it, anyone can. All you have to do is let go a little bit and take one step, even if that step is saying, “God help me. Please.” 

Blessings to all and welcome to 2017. Let’s make it a good one!

First blog post

As we creep to the finish line of 2016, I’m reflecting on this past year. It has been a year of change. Our youngest daughter graduated high school, our 14 year old fur baby crossed the rainbow bridge and broke my husband’s heart (she was his working dog), we became empty nesters, and my business has begun to take a little shape from its incredibly modest beginnings in 2014.

Of course, I’m going to take a shot of some scenery here and there, or my dogs looking pathetic begging for a piece of sandwich. But, I’m coming to find my passion when I’m behind the lens. Rough stock and barrel racing, with other horse events as secondary’s.

I’ll be leaving 2016 at a rough stock event in Penrose, Colorado at Crossroads Bar and Grill, and as we all enter into 2017, that will be my main direction. 

And, I’m going to try (key word) to be more attentive to this fancy new blog and simple website.

Happy New Year! Welcome 2017!