What Do the Pictures Mean?

April 28, 2010

Someone asked me,” Jeff what do your pictures mean to you?”  I thought about that and perhaps this will explain what they signify when I look at them.

If you notice none of my pictures have a person in them unless it is someone  in the distance or is seen by accident.  While I do take some shots of people for groups I am in like CERT and my writer’s club, the ones I put up for the public are ”sans personas” if you will.  In short I like landscapes the best and am not interested in people or animal pictures.   The feel of a wide view outside and the weather is what I like to see and photograph.

But what I like shooting still does not answer the original question.  What they mean to me is based on how I feel when I see a shot that I took or am about to take.  When I see a picture like “Another View Of Forever” or “The Bridge At Heritage” I get a feeling of timelessness and something bigger than myself.  The wide expanse of the world unfolds in front of me and the long road of time unwinds to someplace unseen.  A little butterfly appears in my stomach which makes me feel alive while I stand in awe at what I see around me or is above my head in the sky.  The meaning my pictures try to capture is a view of life that is larger than mere self-interest and one that is more lasting than the span of our own lives.  We all live in this universe for a while, surrounded by its simple grandeur, then others take our place in eternity when we are gone.  Through the passage of time the cycle of life and the remembrance of those who were here before us continues without a known end.  And the Earth beneath us always remains as life’s stage for the play of our lives and its many acts of sorrow,  triumph,  love,  and sadness until the final curtain falls for us all one day. 

That may be a mouthful but that’s what my pictures (and my writng) make me feel and thus defines their meaning.  You might think such thoughts are poetic or grandiose, and I guess they are, but that is best way I can explain something that is both ethereal and yet real to me at the same time.

So if my ideas above make you wonder about my images see how they make you feel at  http://www.redbubble.com/people/jeffturnerphoto .


The Flea Market And Charles

April 25, 2010

Sometimes I have met a person by accident who affects me in a way that is large even though what was done was small in the big scheme of things.  Charles, at the Will Rogers Flea Market, was one such person who I still remember.  He was a good and kind man who did something he did not have to do.  Driven by the death of someone he deeply loved, he made others happy by a small act of kindness. This good nature is something I have preserved by writing about below. 
The Will Rogers flea market was one of those “good old places” in Fort Worth that you and I visited many times. Well, good for you since going through the seemingly endless rows of junk was never my favorite thing to do.  But you liked it and we combined that activity with lunch or going to the Flying Saucer for a beer or two on our way home.

Walking down the aisles of the livestock barn  where the flea market is located, one sees a strange array of  things such as old household goods, collectibles, and junk better off at the dump.  But occasionally there was a shining jewel among the mostly dull and useless refuse that was there. One such treasure was meeting Charles and buying his dead wife’s cherished beading supplies. It was a stroke of good fortune since the beading supplies had value, especially the real turquoise pieces, which he sold to you for pennies on the dollar.  And it was a wonderful event too since Charles was a good man and pleasant to be around each time we went to Will Rogers.

Certainly he was kind by giving us such a good deal on what was left of his wife’s earthy treasures.  But what struck me most about him was how he remembered his wife. Like a lot of people he had been married to his wife for many years and was shaken by her death.  You could tell he missed her deeply and at the same time carried himself upright through life tending to his daughter and grandson who he also dearly loved.  And if I remember correctly he said he had a slowly progressing terminal disease as well.  But even with these hard things in his life he always had a good outlook on things and was friendly every time we saw him.

His kindness to us, two people he hardly knew, and owed nothing was an exception compared to some in that flea market who tried to sell you junk or outright cheat you.  Selling his wife’s beads was also as much an act of remembering her as it was selling goods he no longer needed to keep.  He said he hoped you would enjoy the beads as much as his wife had.  He seemed happy to see the excitement in your eyes as you beheld the riches in your hands just as he could still see his beloved wife doing.

The many pieces of jewelry you made did give you pleasure.  You made your fellow teachers guess where you got them. You never told how you made the sets of earrings and bracelets or the story behind what you crafted and wore.  You see by using her beads you honored Charles and his wife.  Your work with those little trinkets and stones made her live on just as she did in Charles’ mind.  So when you strung one of those beads you did it in honor of his wife whom he still deeply loved and also in honor of the good man he was.

You can now see that Charles made an impression on us in more than one way. Seeing him was always a pleasure but it was something we took for granted. We thought he would always be there just like the old livestock barns at Will Rogers endured and never seemed to change.  But one day he left, his market stall was no more.  He moved to Houston with his daughter, departing from the flea market and our lives. We wanted to contact him, thanking him once more, but he left no forwarding address with anyone there and was gone. 

Indeed he departed but like the memories of his wife, who he loved and longed for so, the memory of him is still inside me.  It makes me smile, feel a little sad, and wish he is well each time it appears.  Hopefully one day we will be remembered the same way by people we were kind to just as Charles from the flea market is now by me.

I hope this story touches your heart just as it touches mine to this day.  This small note will be part of my next book “Notes To Stephanie: Days Remembered.”

A Small Church And A Small Surprise

April 11, 2010

Quite by accident I took a picture of something inside of a building.  All of my others up on a website for sale and are landscapes of various types.  But not the day I shot some pictures inside of the church whose exterior I have photographed.

Late one afternoon I was at the Watauga Presbyterian Church looking at the backside of the showers that had moved through earlier hoping for some shots of that. I took a few but did not think they were any good.  The clouds shapes were not dramatic and the light was too sharp.  So I turned from my view from the east and noticed  a white van had pulled up to the front of the church and a man was stepping out of it with  twelve packs of sodas.  He saw me and seemed to wonder why I was there so I went up to him and introduced myself and described what I was doing there.  I explained that I had taken pictures of the church and had some on-line for sale.  We talked for a bit about the long history of the church which dates back to the 1850s and how they wanted to do some renovations to the building one day.  Then he did something surprising: he asked me if I wanted to see the inside of the church.  Of course I accepted his kind gesture.

He unlocked the front door and we stepped inside to a world that reminded me of times long ago in another country church.  The church is small but is filled with things from another time in our history.  There are ornate, curved wooden pews, a pump organ, and a wooden floor, all of it with a sense of slight disrepair here and there.  It was very much like what I remembered of the Valley View Church Of Christ we attended when I was a kid.  I could picture myself as a little boy again squirming in the pew next to my mom and wanting  the sermon to be over so we could go back to my grandparents’ house, eat lunch with our cousins, and play.  But this was not Valley View in the 1960s but Haltom City not far from my house in Fort Worth in the present.

I looked around some more while he explained some of the details of what was inside like the carpet down the aisle that had been donated so it could be used in a wedding.  All of the history he told me was like many other old churches.  It was full of family, fading old memories, and the snippets of the lives of those who once sat in those curved wooden pews.  It was full of life itself and I got to see a bit of those lives thanks to the kindness of this man who worshipped there along with the other members of the dwindling congregation.

He next turned to me and said he had to take the rest of the sodas inside and return home.  He appreciated the fact that I had interest in the church and would give my author business cards to the  church’s governing body.  I thanked him for that gesture and got in my car and drove home.  All in all it was an interesting event that began by randomly driving to a place I had been to before.  But this time I also got a small surprise.  Small surprises are one of the things that make life special I think.  They add a little spice to the mostly boring cake of everyday life. 

And by the way the pictures turned out pretty good.  Here is one of them that tells the story of the small gift that man at the church gave me that day:  http://www.redbubble.com/people/jeffturnerphoto/art/4964295-1-inside-the-church-1

I hope you all are treated to something wonderful like this one day.  A small surprise and something you had not seen.