july 16, 2016

posted in: photography | 2

“Make two lists.
1. Things that make you happy.
2. Things you do everyday.
Adjust accordingly.”
~ Unknown

 

Gary Allen Smith
Gary Allen Smith

 

Tonight we celebrated our friend Allen Smith. As I said before, Allen’s lung cancer took him frighteningly fast. If you gotta go in such a horrendous way, better to go “mercifully quick” as Terry Keys put it. Rev. Mark Davis offered stirring words at the service. One thing that stuck out to me was this: “Allen was a great man full of love, that didn’t always receive love in return in this world.” Still, as I write, tears well up in my eyes at the thought that someone, anyone, could not love that blessed man. There is no one in this world who should ever feel shunned or unloved for any reason. Whether they’re a different color, a different gender, a different sexual orientation, a different height, weight, or eye color; we are all made in God’s image, and it is our duty as Christians – as decent human beings – to love without reservation. Period. Jesus was the embodiment of this ideal. I’m in no way perfect, but I try with all my heart to love and accept every person I meet just as they are. We don’t have to agree on anything, but agreement doesn’t constitute love. “Kindness, mercy, hope, and love,” Rev. Davis continued, are four gifts we seek and should give in return. (I’m paraphrasing, of course. He was much more articulate.)

 

saying goodbye
saying goodbye

 

Still, in the depths of sorrow, there was a convergence of souls who loved Allen as deeply as anyone has ever been loved. His devoted choir-mates sang in their best voices for him. His church family honored him in song, in prayer, and in the joy of just being together.

 

once in the choir, always a friend
once in the choir, always a friend

 

Allen liked people being together and being happy. His best friend Terry Keys (above) made sure Allen’s service was exactly the way he wanted it. That’s a huge responsibility, but there’s no one else more suited to the job than Terry. He’s a strong man, and a strong friend, able to carry his brother when he needed to. For many years Sara Holroid (above) sang with Allen and Terry in the choir. Like everyone else, she loved Allen deeply. Sara doesn’t sing in the choir anymore (I don’t know why, she’s only 92 for goodness sake), so it was a real treat to see her again: that quintessential smile a reminder to be joyful in all moments because you never know which will be your last. I hate so much that Allen has walked on, but I’m thankful for him, and for Terry, and Sara, and all my church family. I am a better person because of them, and grateful for the kindness, mercy, hope, and love they’ve shared with me.

 

as a young man
as a young man

 

Godspeed, Allen, and thank you for being my friend.

july 9, 2016

posted in: photography | 1

“The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are, and look realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen.” ~ Ralph Marston

 

after

 

You might recall my post from June 20 of this year when I posted both a color and a black & white image of this scene. I then whined about the power lines; how they inevitably get in the way of a good urban shot (sometimes a good country shot, too). Deb Chenault suggested I get rid of the power lines and color only the turquoise bicycle. So, I did. Here it is. Fun with Photoshop.

 

before
before

june 20, 2016

posted in: photography | 3

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do it keep walking.” ~ Zen Proverb

 

old world
old world

 

My first errand Friday was to drop off the car at Lowell’s for maintenance. That left me with plenty of time to explore downtown. One of my favorite things to do, after breakfast at Lexington Diner of course, is to wander the streets looking for just the right shot of downtown. Most of the time, though, the best image(s) aren’t of the idyllic cityscape, but in things rarely seen; angles, rooftops, juxtapositions of all manner of things. As I came near the corner of Mill and Second, just across from the Carnegie Center, I caught a glimpse of the First Presbyterian steeple. Do you prefer it in color or black and white? I’m going for the black and white myself, but I offer both for fun. In any case, either of these houses must be incredible places to call home. Old, steeped in a modicum of mystery, urban, and cool. I would love to know the history of either house.

 

newer old world
newer old world

march 24, 2016

posted in: photography | 0

“My goal is not to be better than anyone else, but to be better than I used to be.” ~ Wayne Dyer

 

one faith
one faith

 

It’s Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday in Scotland as I came to learn this evening. I didn’t know what Maundy Thursday meant until I went to First Presbyterian Church. Maundy is Latin for ‘commandment’. During the Last Supper (Maundy Thursday) with his disciples, Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34) He also instituted the Eucharist (communion) and foot washing during the Last Supper. I vaguely remember Mamaw going to a foot washing service, but it seems like it was part of a New Years Eve service (I could be mistaken). I don’t ever remember communion being served. The church had an “In Remembrance of Me” communion table, so it must have been observed at some point, but certainly not with any regularity. In any case, I mention it because this evening I attended the Maundy Service at First Church wherein Rev. Mark Davis talked about Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. He also talked at length about what we do with our hands in the service of Christ. For instance, it was Jesus’ hands that broke the bread and poured the wine that have come to symbolize the body and blood of Christ during communion. I’ve come to appreciate and look forward to both Maundy Thursday and communion (even when it’s not Maundy Thursday). These rituals soothe me, and remind me of what is at the heart of the Christian faith: love. A commandment that seems to get lost in so many ways these days. I had the chance to hug a good number of people I love after tonight’s service, so that’s a bonus for me. I chalk this up to a grand day indeed.

march 14, 2016

posted in: photography | 0

“Stop focusing on how stressed you are and remember how blessed you are.” ~ Unknown

 

missing
missing

 

After Saturday’s stint at ArtsPlace, Crystal, Stacy, and I began schlepping art and camera gear (and ourselves) back to the car. We passed First Presbyterian Church where Crystal noticed this little guy. I walked passed him without a notice. He was an awesome find, though, and since I had a free hand to reach my phone, here he is. The funniest thing about this monkey is that Crystal had loaned me her Colormunki monitor calibrator earlier in the week, so the monkey jokes were flying. Then, boom, another monkey! Good catch, Crystal. You make me laugh even when your arms are full and you’re having a crappy day. Hope the little guy found the baby that lost him.

 

passy
passy

december 6, 2015

posted in: photography | 0

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

IMG_9192_day336_1_15_sm
chiaroscuro

 

For years I’ve been captivated by the cross at First Presbyterian Church. It stirs something in me. Its shadow against the ornate pipes of the organ is intriguing. The cross is especially noticeable at night when the lights are low and moody. Tonight I had the privilege of shooting the Bach Choir Christmas program, and it gave me the chance – thanks to Crystal Heis loaning me her long lens – to shoot the cross in the right conditions.

 

chiaroscuro
tight quarters

 

By the time we were ready for the group portrait, the altar steps were a mass of mic stands and enormous flower arrangements. The choir were willing to change locations, but I’m hoping we can manage another shoot without the accoutrements of performance for a better, more colorful grouping. They’re all such beautiful people that I want to see them in their glory. Plus, the church is just beautiful this time of year.

 

in full
in full

 

The choir was, of course, stellar. The music inspired. There were few empty seats, and I could hear people whispering words of praise for a job well done. I truly enjoyed the performance, and I was especially honored to snap a few shots through the night. I feel so fortunate to know these talented, beautiful people.

december 2, 2015

posted in: photography | 0

“It’s not happiness that makes us grateful; it’s gratefulness that makes us happy.”
~ David Steindl-Rast

 

main street
main street

 

Mom couldn’t stand being inside anymore, so out we went into the drizzle for a ride if nothing else. We knew how to get to Highlands, so back we went to see what we could see. We found some lovely shops. As mom pointed out, Highlands looks like one of those Christmas towns on the Lifetime Channel. It really does.

 

First Presbyterian Highlands
First Presbyterian Highlands

 

Even though it was raining, it wasn’t raining as hard as it was when we left Sunday service the day before, and from Main Street, I could photograph First Presbyterian Church. I could also get a better look at the adorable Episcopal church across the street from First Pres. If ya’ll have a chance to visit Highlands, do. I have a feeling it’s a special place no matter the season, no matter the weather.

 

across the street
across the street

november 29, 2015

posted in: photography | 0

“Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to take us over,
it drives compassion right out of our hearts.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

 

the color of royalty
the color of royalty

 

You may recall my mentioning Rev. Dr. Lee Bowman who was pastoring First Presbyterian Church in Lexington when Stacy Yelton and I started attending many years ago. Lee moved to First Presbyterian in Highlands, North Carolina after several years in Lexington. That’s a far piece from home, making a Sunday visit unlikely, though Stacy and I often wished we could make the drive. Last summer, before she retired, Lee told me a little about her North Carolina church. It sounded lovely, and upon her retirement, I was especially sorry that we never made it to hear one last superb sermon from her.

 

Holy Bible
Holy Bible

 

The resort I drove mom and dad to is just thirty minutes from Highlands and Lee’s former church. After a decent night of rest, and in spite of the nasty weather, Mom and I went to morning services at First Presbyterian in Highlands today. The young woman who now co-pastors the church, Emily Wilmarth, did a wonderful job and she couldn’t have been more welcoming if she rolled out red carpet for us. Her message on this first Sunday of Advent was especially close to my heart. Like the quote above (once again total coincidence), she spoke on the effects of fear, and how we fallible human beings are prone to let it take over our thoughts to the point that we become irrational, without compassion, not-very-Christ-like. I look at my aging parents and aging loved ones and I fear for their future, and mine without them. Her words were as a balm to soothe my own fear. A fear that itself is irrational since I can’t do anything about aging or that I might fall short of what everyone needs from me along the way.

 

the original
the original (snapseed)

 

The church in Highlands looks quite different from First Pres in Lexington. The majority of the pews are the original pews made for the church. The additions to the building over the decades have been done in exquisite taste. They do not detract from the original building’s design, but accentuate it instead. Lee wasn’t at service today, so I missed seeing her in person. But I’m sure wherever she was she was cheering us on. After all, this was mom’s first ever visit to a Presbyterian Church and the entire congregation was as sweet as could be. The only thing missing was Stacy. I’ll be back someday and hopefully she’ll come with me to enjoy the kindness of this southern mountain church.

october 4, 2015

posted in: photography | 3

“Consider becoming the type of energy that, no matter where you go,
you always add value to the spaces and lives of those around you.”
~ Unknown

 

agent 007
agent 007

 

This was a big, nervous day for me. If you’ve been following the outhouse, then you know I’ve been working on a series of photos called Sacred Spaces. The first exhibit of the work was scheduled to hang today at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Lexington. Because God and the Universe love me, it just happened to coincide with Sandy Davis’ first return to Lexington since moving to Boston. Sandy has been a big supporter of my work and she always had my back when it comes to all the things I’m horrible with, like marketing myself. I’ve leaned on her artistic senses to put this exhibit together, so it was only right that she should be there when it went up. I trust her eye, and I trust Marlon Hurst, so I stepped aside and let them hang the show. It was a huge load off my shoulders, frankly. I get too close to the work sometimes to know what’s best. I’m indebted to them forever for helping me. And while they did the heavy lifting, Harriette Swart and Stacy Yelton talked to me at length about the work itself. Their conversations were so cathartic, so soothing, that my nerves calmed and I felt more confident about the work, and most importantly, the impact of the work. It was a truly special time that I will never forget (Sandy insisted on the Kopana style selfie, and Sandy gets what she wants!).

 

best team ever
best team ever

 

Kentucky Tribe
Kentucky Tribe

 

My day wasn’t done. No, this great day was meant to be a spectacular day! We left the exhibit and met our Happiness gal pals at National Provisions for a late brunch. This was the first time we’ve all been together since Erin had moved before Sandy, Annie, and Jeanne Marie joined us. Plus, we’ve added Harriette Swart and Marcie Christensen because they are meant to be here. We’ve all had a big year, but most of us have undergone big life changes; from moving homes to changing careers to adult responsibilities, and so on. I just can’t believe how lucky I’ve gotten to find these friends. It’s mostly thanks to Deb Chenault for putting her Happiness Project out there and letting us be part of it. Every one of these women is talented, unique, big-hearted, and smart. I’m just happy and in love with all of them. And Marlon, too, because he’s cool enough to be a gal pal… if he was a gal. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

 

photographing the photographer
photographing the photographer

september 20, 2015

posted in: photography | 1

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.
~ M. Scott Peck

 

from the unseen
from the unseen

 

I went to First Presbyterian Church in downtown Lexington this morning. After everyone had gone I popped off a few shots. I remember so well the first time I stepped foot into this church. It was probably ten years ago, give or take a year. I had never been in a Presbyterian church before, and I sure didn’t know what to expect from the sermon. It would prove a pivotal moment.

 

from outside
from outside

 

Then, as now, I thought it was the most inspiring church I’d ever stepped into, and that was before the renovation as you see here. It isn’t the most opulent, the most architecturally stunning, nor the most humble of churches I’ve ever attended. But there was something about the glow that I found attractive. There’s no other word for it: in my eyes it glowed, and that was before the sermon delivered by then pastor Rev. Lee Bowman. It was spell-binding, and it kept me coming back, changing the course of my spiritual journey along the way. Lee left and Rev. Mark Davis stepped in. I was slow to warm to his off-the-cuffness, but here lately his messages have hit their mark, giving me words I need to hear right when I need to hear them. I have grown to appreciate Rev. Davis a great deal, and it feels good to go back into this sanctuary, welcomed and at home.

 

from the balcony
from the balcony

 

Downstairs at First Church they have a lovely gallery space which is part of Lexington’s Gallery Hop event. There, I’ll be hanging twenty pieces from my Sacred Spaces series in two weeks. If they hadn’t offered the opportunity of an exhibit I may have never started the series to tell you the truth. I’d been mulling it over in my head for a decade without a single click.  Perhaps I should include one of these photos in the exhibit. It’s not too late.

 

up close
up close
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