Life Is A Carousel…

Life can be crazy. Life can be overwhelming. Everyday we try to juggle this and handle that. I heard someone say the other day that they felt like a hamster on a wheel running and running and always circling back to where they started. Hamster on a wheel, no way.

Life is like a circus, like a carnival. Full of vivid colors, squeals of joy mixed with trepidation, and feverous excitement that fills the air like static.  The pure and simple joy of spinning around and around on a majestic vibrant carousel, who’s characters have stood witness to the children we all once were and will embrace our children’s children as old friends some day. Life is just like a carousel, and   I could spin forever…

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Snow Day

I love snow. Especially when its fresh. There is a quiet that falls over the world when it snows. People stay in, the critters hide away, and once it all settles everything is clean and new. Snow has a magic all its own. treeline branchingout bench copy winterwhite winterjay       brighwhite Love these images? Stay in touch, like me on Facebook here.  To purchase these images and more, visit my Etsy shop here.

Walks In Winter

Today is Groundhog Day, and according to the predictions of one plucky Pennsylvanian marmot it looks like those of us here in the U.S. are in store for 6 more long weeks of winter.  Admittedly winter holds less charms for me than the warm days of summer, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t have its merits.  A few shots to share from coastal walks in winter, days well spent. Six more weeks of winter? It might not be all that bad.

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Well Equipped

I hear it a lot – a lot, “if I had a better camera, I could take better pictures”.  A better picture, whats that? Does it astound, does it impress, does it amaze? I never understood that, what are these elusive, “better pictures” the world is hunting for?

For most people a photo is a trip. A trip back in time to a moment, a place, a person, long gone or  too faraway to be tangible. Short of decapitating some poor unknowing soul or turning an image completely on its head- I don’t believe in bad pictures. Even the iconic photos in family albums around the world of the headless grandmother aren’t bad. They speak- and after all isn’t that the point of a photo? To speak to those days of the past, to the people who lived  and laughed in them? Even the “worst” photo has a story to tell, and that in and of itself is redemption. Check out this hilarious compilation from Buzz Feed, looking at these shots, you can’t tell me they don’t tell a story!bad

But I digress- lets talk about that camera. That camera if you could just replace- you just know you’d be the next Ansel Adams traipsing through the wilderness, saving trees and hugging mountains. Or perhaps you’re more of a Leibovitz, photographer to the stars, capturer of soulfulness. Sorry, sad news alert, I’m here to burst your bubble. No. Just no. No you won’t.

cameraThere are a thousand cameras out there, and I will be the first to admit some are amazing! But in the end, when the photo goes on the wall or in the album, its not the camera that made the image, its you. Its you who see, you who feels, and you who bleeds that all into one moment punctuated with a simple click.

By now, you’re thinking, “Uh-huh, sure” easy for me to say right? Me trotting around with my fancy Cannon camera. I promise you, I speak the truth. A few weeks back over the winter holiday I had a disaster. While traveling with family, in the midst of chaos and fun my camera took a 3ft tumble on to asphalt.  I am close to certain my heart stopped for a few moments. Needless to say, goodbye camera, goodbye job, “Hello, welcome to Mcdonalds, may I take your order”! Crisis, not adverted. My precious companion would no longer shoot or flash, all it could manage was a metallic grinding to remind me of its recent assault. Fixable, yes- when I needed it, no. What to do, what to do?

Creativity, has always been a strength of mine. I don’t mean creativity in the traditional sense I can’t Mcgiver my way out things, but I can think out of the box. What to do when my precious camera wouldn’t work? Find another. And so I did, sitting around gathering dust in my family home was the most generic looking Nikon you could ever imagine. Go to any store that sells cameras and you can pick one up for yourself. My camera elitism shrouded me in doubt, but reluctant as I may have been, I picked it up and proceeded.

A week later, back at home piling through pictures on my laptop, my damaged camera restored to its original health,  an odd thing happened- the pictures from that dusty original generation DSLR came to life before me. To my surprise, they were crisp, clean, and beautiful. I was so dumbfounded, I found myself second guessing, double checking.

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Pretty fantastic huh?

And then I thought about it. Why be so surprised? This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done this. This wouldn’t be the first time anyone had done this. Ever hear of a thing called an iPhone? Every year IPP hosts a iPhone photo contest, the images that come out of it will astound you. You can check out the 2014 winners here.  Believe it or not these two images below, both were taken with my iphone. To date, they are some of my top selling photos.

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The camera, is only half the equation, less than half really. The photographer makes the shot. So go, make images, surpirse yourself, and use what you have. A good camera is important, but feeling through the moment, makes it matter!

 

Got any great camera phone images? Share them here, I’d love to see them!

2014: My Favorite Things

I’m a little late in this post … 2014 was a year, wow, it was a year! A year filled with adventure, old friends, new places, and most of all love. I went some amazing places, took lots and lots and lots of photographs, and made memories that I will hold on to forever.

When I sat down to write this post I underestimated how hard it would be. The goal was to pick out my favorite images of 2014, to look back, to reflect and remember through the images I had made. How’s that done though? How do you break down a year into just a few images. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy at all. I debated, I laughed, I got up from my computer, sat back down and drank a ton of coffee. It was hard, really hard, but here they are 15 of my favorite things. 2014 a look back: Mountains, to sea and everything in between!

“Palm Republic”- Bahia Honda, Florida

There are some places everyone wants to be. Bahia Honda, a tiny little key nestled between Marathon Key and Big Pine Key is one of those places. With a teeny but beautiful State Park offering on the beach camping and 360 views; try and make reservations for any day of the year and you’ll be hard pressed to find space. So on a random day in February surfing the web when I stumbled across space, I grabbed my credit card and 3 days later I was there. Watching the sunset, sounding the conch and capturing this perfect moment.

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“Color Swirl”- Shell Series

In 2014 I spent less days at home than I did on the road. On one of my rare weeks of down time I found myself hanging out in my living room, rain was pouring down on our tin roof, I was looking through “found” items from pervious trips, and thinking about life. Damn. I had collected a lot of shells. What is it about shells? Its like we just can’t help ourselves. Sometimes I find looking at something through a lens reveals an awful lot that my own eye won’t. A few snaps later, I was hooked and the Shell Series was born.  Since that day this series as been picked up for publication, turned into a book, and will be on solo exhibit in Cary this coming May. Don’t hate on rainy days, they might surprise you.

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“On The Fence”- Oakley, Kansas

If you’ve ever driven through Kansas you know there’s not much there. Not much at all. But if you ever find yourself traveling I-70 across this great country, take a quick detour. I’m always immersing myself in small cultural details, it amazes me how across the US how much cultures and habits can vary. I couldn’t help but pull over my road weary VW and snap a few shots of this lonely boot. KSBoot

“Alpine”- Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Harvey Broome once said,

“Without wilderness, we will eventually lose the capacity to understand America. Our drive, our ruggedness, our unquenchable optimism and zeal and elan go back to the challenges of the untrammeled wilderness.”

In our National Parks we see that ruggedness reflected. If you’ve never been, go. They won’t disappoint.

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“Solitude”- Mt. Evans, Colorado

I am always finding that my passions feed each other. The need for travel, exploration and adventure feed my photographic hunger, and when I find myself hungry for photos I ache for adventure. It has long been a dream of mine to summit all of Colorado’s 14,000 foot mountains. This shot was taken on Mt. Evans in early June. In a saddle ridge looking out on the Sawtooth and Mt. Bierstadt while my climbing partner looks out and looks in.

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“Benightment”- Mt. Evans, Colorado

Another shot from one of Colorado’s giants, closing in on the summit. Storms kick up in the early afternoon, and can cause wild and unpredictable weather. At 14,000 ft. well above the tree line you are the tallest point and lighting can kill you as quickly and easily as a slip from the mountain.  The rule is go early, get down quick. Today was no exception as I took  this shot we watched the beginnings of a storm roll in.

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“God’s Pocket”- Arches National Park, Utah

Married to someone who makes their living climbing I spend my fair share of time in and around climbing gyms. So when I wandered into Arches National Park, my attention immediately went to these amazing weathered pockets in the sandstone. They look remarkably an awful lot like a hang board we have in our home. Its refreshing to know the climbing community is still garnering inspiration from nature.

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“Desert Boulder”- Moab, Utah

Moab has long been a mecca for outdoor adventure, and with so much space, and so many climbing routes its hard to narrow down a few select projects. But one thing is for sure, wherever this guy goes he’s sure to find something to climb on.

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“Hanging Lake”- Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

If this incredible lake nestled high in the canyon walls doesn’t give you inspiration. I’m not sure what else will. It probably won’t surprise you to hear that this gorgeous lake that looks like a hidden oasis serves as a pilgrimage to hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts on any given day. Go expected places as often as you go to the unexpected, you never know what you will discover.

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“Stars On The Water”- Outer Banks, North Carolina

I took this shot on what was probably the coldest morning of 2014 in NC. It was freezing. In my rush out the door I forgot my gloves. Really.  Lucky for me, It was one of those rare moments when everything lines up perfectly. The troller, the sun, the sky, it all added up into what might arguably be my favorite shot of the year.

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“Breaker”- Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina

I like to go places when other people don’t. The perspective is different, unique. On this quite October day in NC with just a handful of other people on the island I sat and watched the waves the water sparkled, and just like the waves the day was just right.

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“Brick”- Bald Head Island, North Carolina

I’m obsessed with detail. I love the big picture, but there is something in the details that capture me. The parts that make up the whole tell their own story. The brick detail inside Old Baldy Lighthouse tells a lot of tales.

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“See Birds”- Emerald Isle, North Carolina

Some shots are surprising. Most of the time I can tell you in advance what the winning clicks were, but on rare occasions I will look back and wonder. When I took this shot it was on a whim. A cold rainy day on the beach, seagulls, nothing special and in the end that shot turned into a very special image. I love this image. It taught me to see, and not to just  look.

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“Farmall Fall”- Salter Path, NC

In fall along the shores of the Crystal Coast something special happens. The beaches go quiet, bereft  of their crowds of tourists, and the people look back to tradition. Mullet fishing is one of those traditions. Huge nets laid out by tractors seine the waters for the sacred bait fish that many  coastal residents, lives rely upon.

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” Bird’s Of A Feather”- The Point, Emerald Isle, North Carolina

In the winter months sea birds take their turns, turning beaches into mile long rookeries. Wandering down to the point of Emerald Isle where the beach bumps into Bogue Inlet and sound becomes sea, hundreds of sea birds spread out and take respite. I took this shot Thanksgiving Day 2014. It was beautiful.

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Give Thanks

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Wow. It’s hard to believe it is already November. It feels like just yesterday I was traipsing through  Utah’s high desert, climbing mountains in Colorado, and playing in the sunshine on a salty shore. But it is, and for me November means, coffee shops, pumpkin everything, and reflection. Time to think back on the year that has passed.

I realize that it is cliche’ to say that in this of all months I find myself full of reasons to give thanks; we do after all have an entire holiday dedicated to it. But despite my desperate need to always go against convention, I am indeed, very truly grateful.

This last year just like any year has been full of ups an downs, the usual merry go round of emotions we all are riding. But even though the ride is the same, it seems that something has changed with the rider.  This year I started out on my own in a way I’ve never known before. This year I took less time for me and spent more time giving to others. This year I consciously chose to look at life differently.  Instead of focusing completely on my own success I stopped to think how I could help others succeed as well. Instead of worrying over my own troubles, I chose to focus on my victories. I pushed aside the negative, so there would be more room for the positive. This year I laughed more, gave more, and cared more. And the result was a funny thing. I succeeded more. I found allies in unlikely places.  I forgave those who didn’t or couldn’t understand. I accepted help when it was offered. And for the first time in a very long time I chose the path of least resistance, and along it I found, joy, love, and happiness.

The truth I discovered this year is that not everyone will understand you, not everyone will love you. But people are people. We are imperfect, every single one of us. We’re all a work in progress. So forgive those you can, and be grateful for all that you have, not lustful for what you don’t. The world is a truly beautiful place if you just take a look at it from the right angle. Just like in photography perspective is everything.  Adjust your focus you may be amazed at what you find in the snapshots.

If it weren’t for everyone of you. You who read my winded musings, you who “like” my photos, you who have invited my art into your homes, you with kind words, and you who silently support me my life would not be what it is. My dream would not have been reachable. From the bottom of my heart thank you. When I look back at my year, it is you that I see.

And so in the spirit of gratitude, thankfulness, and joy. I want to continue on my year of giving.  From now until the 22nd of December 25% of all sales will be donated to the Toys For Tots Foundation to help purchase toys for children in need during the holidays.  If you use the coupon code: HOLLYJOLLY2014 on the Etsy Shop you can save $10 on all purchases $30 or more. https://www.etsy.com/shop/RebelPhoto?ref=hdr_shop_menu

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Just a small way to say thank you to all of you, for your love support and genuine kindness. Happy Holidays, I truly hope you all had a year as filled with love as mine.

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

I’ve had an epiphany… ok so maybe not an epiphany, but I have made up my mind on something! Which is saying something, cause if you know me at all you know, “I can go this way or I can go that way”…

So what was this life changing moment, you ask. Ok. You can stop holding your breath, I’ll tell you. Like almost all good conversations in our modern age this story starts with, “So I read this article on the internet” This is the article I read :http://www.bustle.com/articles/32177-what-i-instagrammed-vs-what-was-really-happening-or-my-entire-life-is-a-lie

In case you didn’t read the article, yes I mean you. It openly admits what we all already know, social media is a lie. WHATTTTTT? Yep, it is, so deal with it cupcake. Nonetheless, it spoke to me. I get it and seriously, I agree. But then again I don’t   (Hey, stop judging me,didn’t we already establish I’m not decisive).

Let me explain.

Olivia shares a series of her instagram and pictures from her blog posts, and contrasts them to what was really going on at the moment they were taken. We’re cautioned against what we already know; places like Facebook and Instagram are just media platforms touting the best of people’s lives. No ones day is made up of gym time, Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes and romping and frolicking through Autumn leaves, followed by a romantic candlelit dinner with Mr or Mrs. Perfect. Seriously people. Let’s break it down:

You go to the gym, you get sweaty, gross. But you HAD to go to the gym to work off the billions of calories in the latte you just spent $12 on at Starbucks. But admit it you needed the caffeine filled latte to combat the symptoms of the tick borne illnesses you contracted romping through those leaves. And the candlelit dinner? No. Couch, movie, pizza, yeah that sounds about right.

So, I agree. Facebook, is not an accurate snapshot of the lives we live. But, think about this, what if all we saw on social media was everything that went on in everyone’s lives. To be honest. I would un-friend every single one of you right this moment ( and you would probably do the same to me) if that was the world we lived in. It’s sad to admit but in life, there is a lot of bad. Turn on the TV, you’ll hear about it. So isn’t it kinda refreshingly wonderful to have one place where people can share triumphs and joy? Yeah, I think so. I guess what I am trying to say is “tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies” or tell me fractions of your truth as it would be.

So let’s bring this full circle. What the H. E. double hockey sticks does any of the multi-paragraph rant have to do with photography? Um. Yeah, everything. Monumentous, simple, devastating, and beautiful; photographs come in all forms.  Its through photos that we have mourned, laughed, cried, and come together. Take a look at some of these iconic shots, and you’ll see what I mean:

 

 

 

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Cameras are everywhere, for most of us if you have you phone, you have a camera. A way to capture a moment forever. Social media gives us a way to share that moment with the world. And for most of us a happy moment. Try time lining your week, month, or year with your social media page. You might be surprised at what you see. You might just find a snapshot of joy. The next time you’re feeling down, think about that joy. Because in contrast to the original thought, social media isn’t a lie. It’s a portrait of your moments, what makes you happiest, what you want to share with the world. So snap, snap and snap some more. Snap and share the joy, the love, the happiness. Be boldy happy. Let us all see!