I've been approaching my study of photography a lot how I was taught to approach writing poetry.  When you try to become a good writer you have to write, daily and regularly.  You also have to immerse yourself in reading great poetry. It's a practice.  That's how I could have been a poet once but now that I don't write or read much poetry I'm not really a poet anymore or at least I'm not a practicing poet.  I think I could become one again. Anyway, with photography I feel like I need to be shooting as much as possible and I need to be looking at great photographs and reading about great photographers.  The next step will be to let photographers I respect critique my work. All in due time.

So I have been enjoying some great photography books lately from the library.  I have found a few to be very inspiring.  The first once I read,  Annie Leibovitz at Work, was so great.  She is very visual in her writing and passionate about her work. She's a true artist.  She talks a lot about her life and work and about the things I would ask her if we were in the same room. I'll definitely going to buy this book.

Here's an excerpt from the end of Annie Leibovitz at Work.

I have a small but carefully selected collection of vintage photographs.  Pictures that mean something to me.  One of them is a black and white picture of a two lane highway stretching through the center of the photograph until it disappears into the flat horizon.  The highway was the route families took west, looking for work during the Depression.

The picture was taken by Dorothea Lange in 1938 when she was traveling around the country for the Farm Security Administration.  It makes me think of the story Lange told about one of her earliest field trips.  AFter spending a month on the road in southern California she was finally heading home.  It was raining and she was exhausted and she had a long drive ahead of her .  She had been working up to fourteen hours a day for weeks and was brining back hundreds of pictures of destitute farm workers.  Somewhere south of San Luis Obispo she saw out of the corner of her eye a sign that said PEA PICKERS CAMP.

She tried to put it out of her mind. She had plenty of pictures of migrant farmers already.  She was worried about her equipment, and thought about what might happen to her camera in the rain.  She drove for about twenty miles past the sign and made a U-turn.  She went back to the sign and turned down a muddy road.  A woman was sitting with her children on the edge of a huge camp of makeshift tents.  There were maybe three thousand migrant workers living there.  Lange took our her Graflex and shot six frames, one of them of the woman staring distractedly off to the side while two of her children buried their faces in her shoulders.

The image of the woman and her children became the most important photograph of Dorothea Lange's life and the iconic picture of the Depression.

When I'm asked about my work, I try to explain that there is no mystery involved.  It is work.  But things happen all the time that are unexpected, uncontrolled, unexplainable, even magical.  The work prepares you for that moment.  Suddenly the clouds roll in and the soft light you longed for appears.

My mom came out to be with the kids while Willie was at work, which makes going so much easier. I did have to spend a lot of time cleaning to get ready for her to come, but because of my busy life, my house was in need of a total deep clean.  The kids were so excited for her to get here.

I had a great time.  I just love backpacking.  It is a 3 or 4 mile hike into camp.  Then we took a 12 mile hike the next day. It was hotter than I would have liked, but beautiful. On the hike in the majority of the group got lost (about 17 people).  One of our priesthood leaders* was with them, Brother Straw, and he instructed them to stay put in the shade while he hiked back to his four wheeler and came back to find them.  (non mormon side note, the term priesthood leader is a way to identify a male leader from a woman leader like Betsy and I) So when my group (6 of us) reached camp and saw that they were not there, I started to worry.  Now, I sometimes scoff at the boy scout ways, you know having a whistle and compass, liners in your socks and steel wool.  No more scoffing, I'm so into whistles.  So after an hour or so of worrying, I started to take action.  The other priesthood leader (brother straw's son Brandon) and I took turns following trails and blowing the whistle to see if we could find them.

Those whistles are so loud and when they didn't answer I knew they has really gone far from the trail.  So I prayed intensely, that they were not walking around in the sun and that I could find them.   True to my recent Moab prayer answers, I saw in my mind what trail to take and I followed it for a long time.  Finally I heard them reply to my whistle.  So I was relieved knowing I had found them but for some reason they would not come to me and I couldn't leave the trail or I would have a hard time finding my way back.  It was really just aspens everywhere.

So I ran back to find Brandon and then we ran back up (gym training was really coming in handy at this point).  Brandon followed their whistle and found the group and lead them back into camp.  All this before brother straw walked 4 miles back to his four wheeler and was on his way to the rescue.  I was so thankful when everyone was at camp, safe and sound and hydrated.

The next day we got up early to beat the heat and headed to the falls.  We had to cross a river and I must admit, I was scared.  I went last to seem like I was taking up the back but I was nervous that I would get swept away and that my camera would get wet.  Well I got across, but I felt like the current could have swept me away to easily.  last year I crossed barefoot and with no problems.  The sudden heat had sent down so much snow melt it was raging.

Later that afternoon we had to cross over the same river but by that time it was not crossable.  This was one of the many times I was so thankful for priesthood leaders with four wheelers. Each of us was carried across on the four wheeler, still getting soaked by the current but having a little more power and speed.  Last year I was so thankful when it was raining while I was in my tent in the middle of the night and I heard some rustling by our fire pit and one of the priesthood leaders was covering our wood and lighting a fire in our pit to keep it from getting soaked.

So we did a lot of hiking, talking, and sitting in the shade.  The girls were great.  Most of them didn't like this kind of thing but they didn't complain much and were cheery.  They found meaning and teaching moments in things like getting lost or straying from the trail.  They were respectful and smart and spiritual.  I must say, this is a great calling.

Next year I'd like to see more talk of conservation.  Most of the girls are taught to be so politically conservative, that a little talk of environmentalism could be helpful.  More wildflower identification and more alone time.  We just don't get enough time to be alone, in the wilderness.  That quiet time is important and can get lost in all the socializing and devotional and all.  I was again, very disappointed, to see the rising generation is almost completely team Jacob.  It must be that he seems more there age.

Here are a few pictures. If you want to see more you can check out my facebook album.


I remember a few years ago (pre Hank and pre job) I felt kind of bored during the day. Let's just say I haven't been bored in years.  Usually life moves at an enjoyable quick pace but this last month or so has been so busy and with so many wonderful things, but I'm happy to be sitting in my favorite chair doing a blog post.  This is a sure sign that I'm not too busy.  So a quick recap about what's been going on.  Then I'm going to dig in and start going into some detail to get caught up.

1. Temple trip to Monticello, Utah.  Our temple is about 3 hours away.  So it really feels like a journey when we go.  Every year our stake has a temple day in which they offer childcare.  So this year we knew we needed to go.  I'm not one for 6 hours in the car in one day, but I knew it was the right thing to do.  We ended up having a great trip.  The kids were great. Wyatt was complaining a bit in the beginning and it was a good teaching moment for him and to remind myself that sometimes things are hard, but we will be blessed for doing the right thing.  The kids had a great time doing activities with the childcare and Willie and I had a good session.  We did a quick hike on our way back to Moab and ate at a restaurant, which for my kids, is the one of the most exciting things ever.

2.  Girls Camp: Separate post here.

3. A quick trip to Lake Arrowhead, Ca with my brother: will have it's own post

4. I headed up the Relay for Life silent auction.  A lot of work but I had great volunteers from church and we made over $1000.

On a side note, once I had a stake calling that caused my email address to get in the hands of a political conservative forwarder.  So I was getting multiple emails a day of the most crazy nature into my spam protected, ever sacred, email account.  Mostly I didn't open them but even the subject lines left me with a bad feelings. So I sent an email to this person, trying to be kind and gentle.  The man responded so kindly and took me off his list.  So we ended up volunteering be each other at the relay for life.  I recognized his name.  Well, after working all evening together and talking, I loved him, despite his political beliefs and his crazy emails. I loved him.  We had so much more in common than we disagreed on.  I just think that love can overcome so many things.  Don't get me wrong, I'm so glad to be off his email list, but I'm also really happy to get to know him.

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