Perspective

_MG_3627.JPGI daydream sometimes about cutting loose, traveling the country and world to make amazing photos and write captivating accounts of them and somehow make a living with it all. If that’s ever going to happen, it’s a long way away. The idea can feel unattainable, like I’ve failed to grasp its secret, after years of galleries and art shows with only a handful of sales. I can’t afford the newest camera or travel for weeks or months at a time like Thomas Mangelsen or Ed Cooley, whose gallery is just down the street. It’s a bitter feeling that author Tom McAllister happened to describe perfectly in an article yesterday. Even after three books and prestigious reviews, his book reading events drew depressingly tiny audiences. He asked his wife before one reading if he could simply leave.

But just in the last couple of days, McAllister and my dad and others have reminded me of a different perspective to take on all of this: We write books or pursue some other creative work first for ourselves, because we love and need to do it. I’ve realized that my bitterness ignores a lot of important things, like the support I have gotten from loved ones and a few strangers, the blessing in having any of this to worry about, my gratitude for people like you who give me some of your time and attention. It ignores the old joy in the doing, the joy in my search with no end for new places and new points of view on familiar ones.

This post is about that last part. Some of us last weekend hiked and camped around Devil’s Den State Park and the surrounding Ozark National Forest, which are like old friends at this point. I sought different perspectives and explored them a little further than I have before. I did my regular hunt for new shapes and colors of fungi. In literally the last few minutes of the trip, I also found a spectacular reminder of why I do this.

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_MG_3926.JPGI saw this vivid, foot-wide fungal behemoth just off the Devil’s Den Trail, gasped absurdly loudly and exclaimed a profanity a few times to myself. The prize seemed to glow in the undergrowth. It was easily the most magnificent fruiting body I have ever seen in person. I breathed quickly, terrified of not getting the perfect shot of it. I excitedly pointed it out to everyone passing by. I couldn’t help but smile for the rest of the hike. It’s ridiculous and nerdy, and I loved it.

And I’ve still only just begun. Thanks, as always, for looking.

Dan

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The One Rule

_C1_6593Skateboarding, foosball, bowling, Ultimate — this was a weekend of games.

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_C1_6591For some reason, the phrase “Life’s a game” popped up in my mind while looking through this crop of photos. Do you think life’s a game? Some people put a lot of thought into the question, tackling it from a cynical or philosophical perspective. I don’t know the answer, but I do know there’s no redo button in those games (video games excluded) or in life. Whatever you do, good or bad, is a permanent part of the history that leads into every second. There’s no taking back a moment — it’s the one rule.

This fact might sound scary, but what are you going to do? Only what you can. Just don’t forget the rule, I guess. And give yourself something to celebrate every now and then.

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_C1_6714By the way, bowling alleys make great birthday spots. A dozen of us went there to celebrate my co-worker’s Big Double-3. I’m pretty bad at bowling, but the company made up for the scores.

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_C1_6759Sunday was way too windy for Ultimate, but life has its windy days, too, am I right?

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_C1_6856Thanks for spending a moment here,

Dan

One Year Later

_C1_9831 smallNorth Betty Jo Drive, January

Well, it’s been exactly one year since I moved here, started writing for the Northwest Arkansas Times and began learning about this place through a camera lens. It’s time, of course, for the cheesy look back on what a year here has brought.

_C1_1128Dickson Street Mardi Gras

_C1_1446North College Avenue, March

_C1_3484Fayetteville Square Farmers Market, April

I’ve definitely gotten better as time has gone on; I’ve gone to new places, found better settings, become more comfortable getting close to people, and am more confident about finding an image no matter where I am. The original idea of this blog was to keep improving even while I’m not making a living with this stuff, and I think that’s going all right.

_C1_4513Devil’s Den State Park, April

_C1_4961Washington County Courthouse, May

_C1_5239World Treasures, North Block Street, May

More importantly, plenty has happened here in Fayetteville since then, with Mardi Gras and Pride parades, a brief period of same-sex marriage in this county, holidays and fairs and life in general. Even if I don’t capture them well, the people, lives and places in these images are real and worth respecting and remembering. There’s art everywhere, and I just try to catch it.

_C1_5526Kings River Country Store, May

_C1_5955Jefferson Lines Station, June

_C1_6698Fayetteville Pride, June

_C1_8106Ozark National Forest, July

This year is also the first I’ve thought about selling prints of some of these photos. No pressure, but if you’re interested, I’ve got a mostly up-to-date Redbubble page set up here. They print, frame and ship. I’ll also make the plug that while newspaper writing is my primary career at this point, if you want photos of an event taken with a photojournalist’s eye for emotion and detail, I’d be glad to see what I can do.

_C1_8439Lewis Fields, July

_C1_9735Washington County Fair, August

_C1_0297bwGlam Beauty Bar, August

_C1_0919Razorback Football Stadium, September

It’s been a good year here, with plenty of interesting and good people, plenty to write about at work and plenty to photograph. I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but this place is one of my homes now.

_C1_2008Bikes, Blues & BBQ, September

_C1_2455Wilson Park, October

_C1_2691---CopyWinslow, October

_C1_2789---CopyPartial solar eclipse, October

_C1_3125Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, October

As always, thanks for looking.

Dan

Memory

_C1_3125It’s been a weekend full of art.

I came across a bagpipes rehearsal near my office after the solar eclipse this week, maybe for someone’s homecoming parade. Some family visited this weekend and went with me to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art up in Bentonville yesterday. Today, we went to Eureka Springs, a small town to the northeast that’s home to hundreds of artists and shops.

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_C1_3102And tonight, I went to see “The Book of Life,” a beautifully animated romance and adventure story based around the Mexican holiday called el Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. The observance, which is coming up this weekend, is a celebration of loved ones who have died, a way to remember them while enjoying food and color and light and taking away the sting and dread of death.

In the movie, the dead inhabit two realms: Those who have living descendants to remember them dwell in the boisterously colorful and fun Land of the Remembered, while those who have no such legacy wither away in the cold, gray Land of the Forgotten.

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_C1_3146It’s a family film, but like the holiday it celebrates, it dives into some of my deepest, most fearful questions: What happens when I die, and will I be remembered? I don’t think I’m alone with these thoughts.

Art, I think, is at least partly an attempt to answer those questions: to make something to remember, and to reach past the boundaries of a lifetime.

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_C1_3132We have sculptures and buildings and paintings and books, but a lot of humanity’s art is temporary, like a group’s playing of the bagpipes for a crowd or an interaction on a sidewalk. Other art doesn’t come from us at all, like a sunset or solar eclipse. I like to think of photography as a way to record this art, to say, yes, you existed, and you did or made or were something worth seeing._C1_3119

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_C1_3195I hope my photography also qualifies as art, because I’m trying to make something to remember, too. We all want to keep the party going in the Land of the Remembered.

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_C1_3285So when I say thanks for looking, I mean it. I hope you have a good week.

Dan