Thursday, February 16, 2012

The invisible war

This is another very personal blog post...

If anyone knows me, they know that I love watching movies. I have seen thousands of films. I love the independent film because it provides artists a platform to express themselves without restraint.

I also enjoy art, in all forms and mediums.  Once in a while I am deeply affected by a piece of art. The medium of film, however, rarely affects me. For me it is usually a purely superficial form of entertainment. Documentaries are different. I am often affected, to some level, by the documentary film.

Some people may not see documentary film as art; I do. It is far and away my favorite genre of film. And, if you know me, you have probably heard me say "I saw this documentary about..."  Even though I am affected by these films, it is generally very superficial. It may affect my thinking on a certain subject or enlighten me to another viewpoint on a subject that questions my own. I am pretty certain that I have never been mentally, spiritually, and emotionally moved by a documentary. That is until this morning.

If you have seen any Kirby Dick Documentaries, you know how well he and his team do their research and how brilliantly he edits his films so they are visually and emotionally impact-full. His latest film, Invisible War, is no different. Invisible war is an incredibly strong film that uncovers the devastation of the hidden atrocities perpetuated within the ranks of our military.

I often feel I am bit of a different type of man. I don't watch sports, don't like to go hang out with the guys. Though i am not at all apposed to hunting, i have little interest in it. I do however love guns. I love shooting them I love the way they look etc. I also love art, art museums, and talking about art. I love the creative process behind the art. I love life and love and am pretty open minded about a lot of things. There are also few things that really bother me.  I am not steeped in testosterone and don't really relate to those type of men. So I don't really understand the need for  power and control that these perpetrators exhibit.

Politically I am about empowerment not entitlement. I am for less government and more humanity. The government should be there to protect us not to control us. That said, I believe in the need for a military and feel it is one of the most important things a government can do for its people; have a military to protect them.

I have always admired soldiers for the willingness they have to sacrifice so much for me and for my family. I think I have admired them to a point that I have never really given thought to the fact that they are also human with the same issues that we deal with in the civilian world. I had never really given a lot of thought to the subject of sexual assault in the military. At least not to the degree that actually exists.

I have heard of incidents where things have happened, heard of hazing and the like. Never had I considered the possibility of a soldier entrapping another soldier, someones daughter, mother, sister, wife, even sons and brothers and violently raping them. But it happens. It happens on an alarming scale.

More alarming than the number of rapes being perpetrated is the military's response, or lack thereof. On average of the 3000ish rapes that are reported (which is about 20%of the rapes that a actually happen ) less than 200 ever have a resolution that sees the assailant serve jail time.  Most are dismissed without leaving the immediate unit. The decision  to move a complaint forward into an investigation lies in the hands of the victims commander. In 25% of the cases the superior they need to report to is the person who committed the rape.

There was recently a lawsuit brought against the military to remove cases of sexual assault from the standard chain of command and put the reporting and investigation into the private sector to give all reports, true and fabricated a fair and balanced review. This lawsuit was dismissed. The judgement ruled that rape was:
An occupational Hazard.
It remains, therefore, under the rules of the chain of command.

Rape has resulted in death, pregnancy, suicide, divorce, PTSD, victims being charged with adultery, and being dishonorably discharged. Not only have these women been brutalized and victimized by these horrible excuses for men and soldiers, but hey have been demonized by the military sworn to protect and uphold their rights.

I am in no way a petition signing type of person, there are way too many people who are way more passionate about things than I and I leave the petitions up to them. For this cause, however, I waited in line to sign. The petition if for the appeal that these brave women are pursuing.

I don't usually publicly advocate for any political party or activity. I often publicly advocate for common sense. Especially when it comes to basic human rights. Just because a women joins the military, she is not an object for men to abuse and mistreat. She a beautiful creation, another soul. She is your mom, your sister, your wife, and your daughter. Thinking of these things happening to them gives me a rage that I rarely feel.

Please visit the website: and sign the petition.

For the few men out there that read this, look at the women in your life, if you can't imagine this happening to them, and wouldn't wish it on any other, please go and sign this petition.

For the women that read this, please share it with everyone that you know.

I am not often moved to the point of action, this subject is one I just can't handle knowing its happening and I am doing nothing to change it.

Some people take issue with some of the images that we have made, claiming that some of it may objectify women. Fine, you have your right to that feeling and I don't take issue with that right. The fact is what Desiree and I do for ladies with our red label session far from objectifies them. We put our heart and soul into making them feel beautiful, making them feel special. We love people we love our clients and we lave the work that we do for them.
For a man to objectify a woman in the manner that this film portrays is so disgusting that I would be appalled if the few people who comment negatively on our blogs do nothing about it.

Stand up, practice what you preach and do something. Try to make a change.

Peace, please, peace

For the last several months a Good friend of mine and his beautiful family have been going through one of the most painful, struggles imaginable.
Several years ago Brent and amber thought they were done with kids. They had three kids already and the last one pregnancy was so rough that they knew, they were not able to have more. Somehow though deep down they knew that their family was not complete.
After much prayer and soul searching they were lead to an orphanage in china and to their waiting son. Stephen was already a special little kid. Like memo, he has a lucky fin, his right hand did not develop as it should have.
They brought him back to his new life and new family and life was alright. That is until late last year.
Toward the end of the year Stephen was having some pretty bad headaches and nausea. They got so bad they took him in and discovered a baseball size tumor in Stephen's brain.
They had surgery right away and removed a good chunk of it, but this type of tumor is so rare that it was outside of the abilities of the local drs to take care of. Stephen was transferred to to st Jude's children's research center in Memphis. The he had another surgery and underwent a high level radiation on his brain to get rid of the cancer. Because of the rarity and the rapid speed of this cancer, it has been an uphill battle.
Most recently they have hit some road bumps, well maybe even road blocks. They had finished with the radiation and took a make a wish trip to Disney world. They had no sooner finished the trip when Stephen started suffering severe sciatic nerve pain. He was suppose to return to st Jude's but was delayed because of the pain and other related nerve problems. They were finally able to dial in a good mix of pain killers nerve blockers and steroids to get his to be able to travel to st Jude's. When he arrived they went right in to diagnosing the new pain and doing other tests to get him ready for his chemo. They discovered that the nerve pain was being caused by an egg sized tumor on his pelvis
This tumor looks to be at/rt because of the speed of growth. This tumor in tangled up in major nerves and arteries and will be a beast to get rid of. On top of that they found another trouble spot in Stephens brain. Which is likely either a fungal infection or another tumor. Either scenario is not good. That combined with the pelvic tumor adds up to a less than hopeful scenario.
We have all been praying for the family, even little Eden ask heavenly father to bless Stephen. The family is asking for prayers still and maybe now more than ever. The prayers they ask for now are ones of peace and comfort. There is always a chance that things will work out fine. But the most likely is they will soon be home on hospice spending as much time with their sweet son as possible.
So please, pray for their family pray for comfort for them and a peace for Stephen. So that the pain he must suffer will be lightened.
Thank you.
And if you want to read the story of Stephen's journey and struggle through this, through the eyes of his parents, visit their blog.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

Valentine's day is kind of a polarizing Holiday. People either love it or hate it. Desiree and I are in a funny situation, you would think as much as we are in love and as much a we work with love we would be big fans... we are not so much.
Valentines day was named after a few Saint Valentines who were early martyrs in the catholic church. There are many stories surrounding these saints and as 3rd century history can be it's all a bit sketchy. But one of the more popular stories is about a young priest who secretly married soldiers during a time in Roman history when soldiers were required to be single, as Caesar thought it would lend to them being better soldiers.
Valentine and the mystery of all three of their persona made them  one of the most popular of saints in the 13-14th century.
At the time there was also a pagan celebration, (if it weren't for pagans the world would have no holidays, right?) the Lupercalia celebration was one of being twitterpated, to use the Disney vernacular. Mid Feb is the time that birds in England and France were observed starting to hook up.
  As with Christmas, the Christians of the dark ages hijacked the holiday and looked for something to celebrate. As with Christmas, it had no correspondence to the actual date of the christian events they wanted to celebrate. Anyway, they set up the feast of St. Valentine on the 14th of Feb. Since one of the Valentine legends revolved around love and marriage...there you go.

Anyway, one of the first written valentines was written in the early 1400's by the Duke of Orleans to his wife in the tower of London.

Well enough of the history, why don't I like it all that much. Well, it's kind of like a man's get out of jail free card. They can spend the rest of the year treating their wife/girlfriend the same, and then on that one day they go out of their way to do something special and think it's ok.
It's not. Well it's OK when they book a session for their significant other you know, just keeping it real.
We should all be more considerate of our spouses the entire year long. Valentines should not be the one day you give flowers, chocolate, love poems. I am guilty just the same. I know I could do more for Desiree on a more regular basis. I am really going to make a better effort from now on.

So maybe that is something we can give to our spouses; a commitment to love and cherish them every other day of the year.
So for all of you who love V-Day Happy V-Day! if you hate it, good on ya. Either way, if you are in love express it, share it, give it. Give it every day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Is the love better in Santa Fe?

If there is one single thing I could do more than what I do. it would be to smile. Yes, there are many things I could do more of but if there were just one, it would be that...
I, all too often, get overwhelmed with life and with work and with, with, with... I forget to stop and take a minute to breathe. To live.

I forget to hug my wife and kids as much as I should.
I don't take time to go out with friends, to relax and have fun!

Toward the end of last year I didn't even have the time to blog weddings. I would post a few images on facebook but I could hardly take the time to write about the weddings. To write about the people we were so blessed to be able to work with. To express my gratitude to them for having us be a part of their weddings.

One wedding in particular, I feel so grateful to have been a part of. Ana and Rob seemed the epitome of those things that I need to be better at. You might recognize them from the blog of their connection session.

You can feel the love and the life in their images. The wedding was not about the location, though the location was beautiful. The wedding was not about the details, not about the favors, not about the food, or drink. It was about the family, the friends, and the love that Ana and rob share.

At one point Desiree walked with the bridal party along the San Francisco street from the La Fonda Hotel to the steps of St Francis Cathedral. I watched from the rooftop of the hotel as Ana and Rob crossed the crosswalk, walked up the stairs and danced in each others arms in the cathedral's courtyard. I heard friends oohing and aahing as they saw their public display of affection. I wanted to run down and join Desiree as she was photographing them. I couldn't join them. I stood there looking through my 200mm zoom. I was like a voyeur, watching a couple falling in love for the first time.

I watched my wife prompting them here and there. I watched her watch them. She photographed them, photographed their emotions and connection. I was able to pause and step out of work and the job and all the running back and forth and just watch a tiny slice of life unfold.

We had a great time that night. It was one of the weddings we waited for and didn't want to leave.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Without title

Often artists leave images untitled. Sometimes it works for the image sometimes it doesn't. I struggled with a title for this blog. I could always call in Allee and Tom, or I could come up with some sort of trite title... but i won't so it remains untitled, or "without title" Sin Nombre, ohne name... So Allee and Tom are one of the weddings we are looking forward to. Honestly though, because we are pretty selective on the wedding commissions we accept we are excited to work with all of our couples this year. But we are really excited for their wedding. We talked about this connection session a few times and were really looking forward to photographing it. It's not that we put a crazy amount of planning into it. It's just we all thought about it and when we all think about it, sometimes magic happens. The session did start off a little rocky, I totally screwed up in giving them directions. So, we both got to the spots where we thought the other was. unfortunately, there was about a ten mile difference in those spots. It took a bit in traffic but we got it worked out and didn't get too late of a start. Once there, Tom and Allee were perfectly in love with one another. When two people are so in love and into each other as they were, it really makes our job fun. So we spent some time here, spent some time there, did a little of this did a little of that, and well you can see what we got. Oh, did I mention it was f-f-fr-fr-freezing! Poor Allee in that little, albeit amazingly cute, dress kept having to warm up inside her coat. By the time the sun went down and we were setting up our last image, she was bundled up in her coat with Toms arms wrapped around her keeping her warm! Thanks you two for putting up with the cold and crappy directions! So anyway, here they are, 'untitled!'

These two images are all about perspective. Desiree on one camera at one angle, and I on another. It's so wonderful being able to work with her every day. When people ask us what makes us different, this is the top answer. It's both of us together.

How can you argue with love. There is no need for looking at the camera and smiling when you are in love, just be in love and the images just happen!

So this image is all about preparation. Though I may not always give the best directions, Desiree and I are always equipped with the equipment we need for any situation. Even the sunset on the Sandias! This image wasn't planned but but we saw it and we were ready, so we did it and dig it!

This image was just grabbed as I was setting up the last image. Tom was keeping Allee warm, and it's just a quiet, intimate moment! I dig it!