Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On getting lost and finding myself...

I was on a practice photo shoot in Norco on Saturday. My facebook friend Michelle had invited me along to this teaching shoot to get a little more practice directing models, playing with light, etc. Michelle had to bail out at the last minute, and I was faced with a choice; stay home and crawl back into bed? Or step out and go into a completely foreign situation, take pictures with total strangers, of total strangers in a new and strange place. Believe it or not, I went. It was out of my comfort zone for sure, but I was welcomed by a kind and accepting group and freshly baked ginger cookies. The shoot was pretty standard as far as shoots go- I got some nice shots, good practice, networking, and the guts to step out and tell the model what to do. That right there was pretty huge. Models are scary for me, and I don't know how to direct them a whole lot yet. Not enough practice posing Barbies as a child I guess. I can direct a class and tell them exactly what to do, but still need to learn how to talk to my subjects and get them to do what I want them to do. Hard, when I really am not sure myself what I want them to do.

Anyway, after the shoot was over, I drove around Norco to explore. I have found for years that I get lost in the most delightful places, and decided to ignore the obnoxious woman in my GPS and get good and lost. Driving off on random roads yields discoveries I often find later on a vacation (Hey, I got lost here once!!!) Before I got too lost, I found in the city of Norco itself, a love affair with horses; horse streetlamps, signs for horse crossing, dirt sidewalks for horses to trot along, and specially made crosswalk buttons placed high enough up that a person on horseback could push the button to get the light to change for crossing! Genius!

Top that off with a restaurant with horses in the parking lot (didn't hear car alarms going off there... or did I?) and it was just charming. You could hitch your horse up outside of Starbucks and McDonalds.

My apologies to the poor guy crossing the street on horseback. You should have seen the look he gave me as I took his picture in the middle of the intersection! The city girl had to take the picture of the horse in the street!

I drove on, up a street, through neighborhoods, near a lovely lush river area with sandy shores. It was a beautiful wide green area, seemingly out of place for Norco, but it was beautiful*taking notes for future photo sessions* and a lovely surprise.

I kept on driving through cities I had never heard of, getting more lost by the minute. I was not worried until I started realize that absolutely nothing was familiar, even when I saw street names I remembered from my Forest Home years. The gas gauge showed no respect for my getting lost and exploring, even though I was not on the right part of Archibald Street, and the amber empty light came on. I calculated furiously in my head, how many more miles can I go? How much more lost can I get before running out of gas? And decided to drive on to the next random gas station. No random gas station came up, and I had to bring back the GPS lady. She was not helpful, instead choosing to send me to a Riverside gas station, 14 miles away, about 4 miles outside of how long my car would have lasted on those final precious drops... and there were cows to boot.

Cows. I knew I needed to get back to take pictures of cows (and why not? They were sticking their tongues out at me and giving me dirty looks. Have you seen a cow give you a dirty look?) More practice with depth of field and lighting, NOT depending on the Auto or "P" setting on my camera. I made a deal that I would go two more miles, trusting there would be gas, and then I could return for my bovine images. Sure enough, there was a 7-11 gas station (did I even know those existed??) and got a couple of gallons at a ridiculously unfair price. Back to the girls for their pictures with dirty looks, eating hay with tongues extended and jumps as my camera flashed and clicked.

Off I drove again, back to Norco, because I was sure I had missed some photo opportunities there and I had to cruise around and look like a silly tourist. I had gone in a big worthless circle, but that was ok. Gas is cheaper than it used to be, and I had some time to think as I drove. Life may be bringing some pretty big changes soon. My recent shoots have revealed many things, the chief of which that I don't know who I am. At the last photo shoot I won by being picked in a drawing, we talked about branding. What is my style? How do I want to market myself? (First of all, probably not having such long blogs... sorry.... I am nearly at the end!) I realized that so many of those present knew what they wanted. They know their style, they know how to direct a model, they know how to edit and change. They know their camera and how to make it do what they want. I know all of this will come in time, and I know that I have some good knowledge already. But there is so much there to learn!!! I have had some gracious and helpful friends, ready to give advice, feedback, and time. A photographer I knew would hardly give me the time of day-boy did he miss out on building into others and learning more by the simple gift of time. I have gotten so much from my photographic field trips lately. Growing by the minute and getting many opportunities to take pictures. But a question remains. How much of me is still lost? And how will I get found? Is my identity in photographer? In teacher? Daughter? Friend? Child of God? As so much prepares to change, I just can't say. What happens if I stop being teacher? After 8 years of that hat, what will I do if I no longer wear it? It is a road I am lost on, driving around in a big circle, taking pictures along the way. Would I be delighted to visit here on vacation, this place I am lost? I don't think so. Not a planned stop on the itinerary. But getting lost does bring out the unexpected and lovely surprises. So, I wait. Storms might roll through, like the one that just showed an early EARLY morning 2 a.m. thunder and lightning show, followed by a pouring rain finale. I might get lost, and I just might see big piles of cow manure along the way. Maybe it won't be so bad after all. As I am lost I may just find exactly what I was looking for.

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