contemplative photography Photo Journal ReFrame

He Said, She Said


I posted some pictures of “spring” that I received during my walk through the Dreher Island State Park on Thursday. Folks, it’s FEBRUARY, and I was wearing a short sleeved T-shirt. Temperatures are almost 80 degrees! It was gorgeous. My “fan club” appreciated them; I received a few “likes” and “Loves” and “Wows” and a couple of comments. And then, there was this:

You are an artist, lady.

This comment came from a colleague with whom I had taught for quite a few years. He taught chemistry and physics, and, interestingly enough, he has degrees in theology as well. And he said, “you are an artist.”


My first response was (in my head), “Boy, do I have you fooled!” My written response was, “Well, thank you. It’s a passion.”

Like so many others I know, I have trouble accepting that label: “you are an artist.” I tend to compare my work to the work of other photographers, both amateur and professional, friends in-person, and friends on-line; and I feel that I come up short.

Last night, I stepped back a bit. I looked at the images I created. I thought a bit about what art is. And here is what I’m thinking this morning, at the edge of a weekend. Art is the way we share our vision of the world. For some, that sharing comes through painting or sculpture or sketching and drawing, through cooking and recipes, through musical compositions or performance, through writing poetry or novels or essays or nonfiction or drama; through acting, through designing and building—I’ve discovered there is an art to hammering a nail straight into a board! (I don’t have that art.)


I choose to see beauty in the world, and my photographs receive that beauty. I, like so many, can get caught up in the “big picture”—the sight of that majestic pine that has stood in place for years and years and years; the expanse of water where it meets the horizon, a whole field of sunflowers or grain. . . . But then there are the details, that cluster of “baby pine cones” (did you know they are pink?), the end of the stamen covered with thick yellow pollen standing out like spider legs, the amazing depth of blue sky, white clouds rimmed with gray (for contrast!).


I suppose I am an artist. I have “the art of seeing” and receiving those images reminds me that there is beauty everywhere.

contemplative photography Photo Journal ReFrame

Walking around the Pond

I’ve walked around those seven ponds so many times over the last 32 years that I may be able to do it with my eyes closed. Not that I will, though, because I just might fall in the ponds, and I don’t want to do that again! Once is enough!

But I don’t take those walks “blindly” or casually, either. There is always something new to see—new growth, new beauty. Today was no different. I decided I had to get out of the house for some “vitamin D therapy,” some sunshine. I refilled the bird feeders and put up the new one that Sherry and Aaron gave me for Mother’s Day. By the way, the birds have flocked to the feeders! They must like the new arrangement and the new bird seed! Then I grabbed the camera and went for the walk.

I’m not sure what smells better, the heavy perfume of roses or the sweetness of honeysuckle. Both scents were evident this morning.


I remember picking honeysuckle flowers and licking the nectar. Maybe I will do that one day soon.

Wildflowers are abundant now—dandelions and other flowers. I know, some people may call them weeds, but they are beautiful.untitled-16

Mr. Leon was plowing the field by one of the ponds. I love the smell of freshly plowed earth. I wonder how long this area will continue to be “rural” and agricultural. It seems that this way of life is going away.


Sometimes nature surprises me. I didn’t see the squares on these “berries” until I went through the images in Lightroom.


I wish I knew the names of plants better than I do. I discovered today that these little beauties are Robin’s plantain, one of the fleabanes that grow in the Eastern states.


But I don’t know what this pretty purple flower is


Nor do I know what these bell-shaped flowers are.


Maybe I don’t need to know, though. John Keats once wrote,

‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all

    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’ (“Ode on a Grecian Urn”).

Perhaps he is right.


Thursday Thanksgiving

I mentioned Monday (or was it Tuesday?) that I spent the weekend in Bennetts Point with Mama. It was a “girls’ weekend.” Mama wanted to check up on the place down there, visit with some friends, and attend the community meeting to see what was going on. She also planned to attend services at the new community church, but it is not yet ready for occupancy. We had hoped to take pictures of the new church, too, but the weather interfered with that project!

It has been a long time since Mama and I have had some extended one-on-one time. You know, she has always been my parent, but also my friend. We connect on many levels. She enjoys reading; I love to read. She has been crafty in her years—sewing, knitting, wood working, some painting. She loves to learn stuff. She is interested in many things. She has taught me much about being independent. I think she was a women’s libber before it was popular! I could easily picture her as one of the original suffragettes!

Daddy was often on the road for his job through the week. He worked construction as a laborer, foreman, and finally job superintendent, until his retirement. That meant he often went where the work was—Owensboro, Kentucky; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; various places in North and South Carolina and Georgia, leaving Mama to raise three children and keep the small farm going. I learned a great deal about being independent, making decisions, and being strong from Mama during those years. Even during these last months of Daddy’s life, Mama was strong. She told me that she had been preparing herself to be a widow for the last thirty-five years or so, ever since Daddy was diagnosed with cancer the first time in 1976.

This week, I am thankful for Mama’s presence and guidance, and most of all, for her love and support. I am thankful that she “gets” me, even though I am sometimes the “odd one out” in my family. She understands my introversion (my brother is the same. It’s my sister who is the extrovert!); she gets my need to create things. She knows who I am perhaps better than I know myself sometimes.

Mama is not exactly camera-shy, but she does not like us to take her picture unless she is ready for it, so I don’t have a candid to share from this weekend. But I do have one image that I love. The bottle bush at the end of the driveway is still blooming in November. There were maybe a half-dozen “brushes” still on the bush. And they were such a vibrant and deep red. (I wonder if they would grow this far inland. I know the oleander that grows around the house at Bennetts Point does not like the Midlands of South Carolina. Mama tried to grow one at her house in Peak.)

Beauty is all around us in all places and in all weather. It just takes us being wide awake to the world.


(I “messed” with the editing. The red is more muted in this image, and a little “bluer” than it was in real life, but art is about vision, and this is what I “see” in my head.)

contemplative photography

Day 6: Photography and Recovery

Today, the sun shone. I thought I’d need to look it up on Google just know what I was seeing. (Yes, this is a bit of sarcasm and hyperbole, but it seems so long since I’ve seen sunshine!)

I went for a walk today, and I took my mp3 player with some happy music and my camera to see what there is to see. After being inundated with images of destruction, all I could see today is beauty. God provides.

I had a plan for this month’s series. I really did! It’s in my planner, but the events of this weekend, the flood, the destruction—well, my thinking about what photography means to me. I needed to see beauty today in the midst of the destruction. I needed to see the beauty of nature. And taking the camera out with me allowed me to see.


After days of gray, these blue skies and white clouds are welcome.



After my walk, I sat in the “John Deere” yellow swing to soak up the vitamin D. Peace. . . .