focused on Glory...Creative Inspiration

I love photography.  I've loved photography and been fascinated by cameras since my grandfather bought a Polaroid Land Camera when I was a very little girl.  He loved gadgets, and went through several different Polaroids over the years.  And I have wonderful memories of time spent with my dad during my teen years...Daddy with his Canon AE-1 Program, and me with my Canon T-70...trekking through the city and countryside shooting roll after roll of film.  

Through the years, I've ebbed and flowed with the whole photography thing.  I took two years of photography in college...most of which I have long since forgotten, particularly since much of it emphasized darkroom techniques, and I haven't been near a darkroom since graduation.  When our children started coming, a new love emerged...scrapbooking.  I still loved to take photos, but what I did with those photos afterward became more the focus than the photos themselves.  I spent several years doing custom scrapbooking and teaching scrapbooking classes, and I even had a layout published in Creating Keepsakes magazine.  

In recent years, though I still love to scrapbook, photography itself has become a passion again.  The technical aspects of photography don't come easy to me, but I've realized that getting them down is crucial to doing the kind of photography I want to be able to do.  

That has led to frustration, however.  Apparently my experience is fairly common...a learning curve with the technical aspects that involves seemingly going backward (sometimes for a long while) before seeing much forward progress when working one's way off "auto" to full manual.  

I've really struggled with that lately, to the point that I fell into a very discouraged rut photography-wise recently.  There have been times I haven't even felt like getting my camera out of the bag.  

Then when we were on vacation a couple of weeks ago, we visited my friend Tauna.   Tauna has always been one of my greatest creative encouragers, seeing creativity inside me at times when I have felt like there was none at all there.  

She did it again on this trip.  She told me she couldn't wait for me to see my birthday present, and that it was something that only I would really appreciate.  I couldn't wait.  

Then she pulled out this box:

Now, you have to understand.  I love wooden boxes.  Any kind of wooden boxes, the older the better.  But this is much more than a wooden box.

THIS box is a genuine, original condition, Thase Daniel slide box.

The name Thase Daniel may not ring a bell to you, but she has been one of my heroes ever since Tauna first introduced me to her story.  She was an internationally-known nature/wildlife photographer of the mid-twentieth century.  Her interest in photography began well into adulthood, and she taught herself photography primarily by taking pictures of the birds near her home.  Although she never had any formal photographic training, her work appeared in National Geographic, Field and Stream, and Audubon Society books.  One of her best-known images was used in a major Kodak advertising campaign in the 1950's.

Daniel was a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University.  During my friend Tauna's years there, she became acquainted with Daniel's work as her entire slide collection had been left to the University when she died.   The collection of 58,000 slides (she only kept the best of the 250,000+ photos taken over her career) had to be completely re-cataloged by the library, after which they sold the original slide boxes.  A friend of Tauna's snagged a couple for her, and she then decided to gift me with one, knowing that I would truly appreciate such a treasure.

What she didn't know, however, was how timely this particular gift would be.  My birthday is in December, but she waited to give the box to me when we made our trip in April.  Little did she know that I was in a deep photographic rut at the time and needed to be reminded of Thase Daniel's story.  I needed to remember this great photographer who started out by years and years of practice shooting the birds around her home before a 30 year career as one of the greatest nature/wildlife photographers of her time.  

Although I have no aspirations of being one of the great nature photographers of our time, I do desire to be able to consistently take excellent, high quality photos.  I want to be able to show a glimpse of God's glory through my camera lens, and capture beautiful memories for my family and others.

Tauna said, "You can re-finish it if you want to...", but I think she knew that I'd rather leave it just as is.  It sits beside my desk now as a reminder and encouragement.   I'm thankful for God's perfect timing in sending an old beat-up slide box as a reminder that He is the author of creativity and art and that He can bless even the efforts of a back yard bird photographer.

I'm back to loving photography again.  I'm back to focusing on capturing glimpses of God's glory through my lens, and preserving memories for my family and friends.  And I'm snapping away at the birds, squirrels, and other backyard treasures, and plugging away at the "technical stuff".   What God's plan is from there, who knows?  In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite (but very technically imperfect :)) recent backyard shots...

(Btw, if you want to see an example of Thase Daniel's photography, check out this brown thrasher photo, published in Encyclopedia Brittanica.  <3)

Be sure to see Tauna's foG post for this week at Creative Confetti.  She shares about her own recent "dry spell" and how God is working in it.  Love the story and pictures of her recent farm visit. 


t marie said...

God is so cool. I like him so much. I am grateful for His beautiful timing. (Although I don't always see it as beautiful.)

And yes, I knew you would leave it as is. What treasures do you store inside?

hand-did said...

Dear Jennifer,
What kind words you have for Thase - thank you. She was my Grandmother, and it is so nice to see that her work has inspired you. And what a surprise to see one of her slide boxes! That box was in her darkroom at home and there were so many times she and I would go through her slides and talk about her travels. She would be very pleased to have someone so enamored with photography to have one of her things.
Keep being creative!
Best regards,

t marie said...

Dear Susan,

I love the encouraging words you had for my dear friend Jennifer. I've often called her my own Thase Daniel.

I have to tell you that one of the joys of my days at Ouachita was the opportunity to select from your grandmother's slides for different projects and promotions. I told Jennifer that we must visit OBU and look through Thase's collection.

Jennifer said...

I'm so glad you came by my blog, and so thrilled you commented. From what I have read of her, your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman! Just before I read your comment I opened a package from Amazon containing her book Wings on the Southwind. I've wanted it for a long time, and I am so excited to sit down with it and pour over her photos.
Thanks again for visiting my blog and your encouraging words...

hand-did said...

Dear Jennifer and Tauna,

You are both so sweet.

Yes, she was quite a woman - very independent for the time, driven, and interested in so many things. (She could play the banjo, among other things, and was friends with Merle Perkins - if you remember him.) She would tuck me into bed and tell me of far-away places - sometimes accompanied by a record of African animal sounds. I have inherited her wanderlust; Sometimes wish I had a good catalogue of the places she visited so I could know when I am visiting the same locations. It would be good fodder for a book...
Jennifer: amazing coincidence with the book, no? Thase was a great collector of nature books (I cannot fit it in my house currently) and used them as inspiration. You must be the same.
Tauna: If you ever come across any more slide boxes, please let me know as I would be interested to purchase one. It was such a thrill to see her hand-writing again. We spent many hours during many summers looking and talking about places and animals, plants, etc. and going through those boxes.
The very best to you,