I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
I have run, I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
–U2, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”
from the album, “The Joshua Tree”
Oh, there’s so much I want to say in this post. So, so much. It will probably get longer than I want it to be, so I’ll do my best to keep it from getting TOO long. 🙂 Stick with me, hopefully it will be worth it! If ya don’t feel like reading much, that’s okay too. Just read the next couple of paragraphs, then you can skip to the pix.
As mentioned in a previous post, I’m a member of the [b] school, an online community started by Chris Becker for photographers. About every 2 months, Becker and his friend, wedding photographer, Joe Paulicivic (also known more popularly as “Joe Photo“), put together a “Day Trip” for members of the [b] school. It’s free to all members, it’s meant to be a fun day to allow yourself an “Artist Date” to play and expand yourself for inspiration and to mix with like-minded photographers.
This past Tuesday, April 6th, 2010, I asked for a day off (can I still call it playing “hookie” then?) from the “day job” (where I’m a graphic artist/art director), and 15 of us carpooled out to Joshua Tree National Park, about 2 hours away. I carpooled with my good friends, Amber Fox and Tom Pellicer, and we met up with Becker & Joe and other fellow photogs outside of Joshua Tree’s southern entrance at an awesome little place called the Crossroads Café and Tavern off of 29 Palms Hwy (catering to all tastes, complete with organic, vegetarian and vegan options, yum!).
We cruised around a small fraction of the park (which is over a massive 550,000 acres!) and ended up at 3 locations, one of my favorites being the Hidden Valley area (and apparently, NO, that’s not where the Ranch Dressing comes from, go figure). The Yucca trees were amazing and the sky was as blue as could be — it was extremely chilly (the high was in the low 60s), but the golden light at sunset still warmed my soul. I’m also SO glad I pulled out my polarizer filter at the last minute before I walked out the door that morning at the wee early hours of 7 am (HEY! I’m a night owl. Don’t judge.) — it deepened the skies and helped make my images really pop!
At this point, I’d like to share my pictures. But if you want to read more about my introspection that the Joshua Tree explorations brought to me, read on after the pictures. Be sure to check out the captions with the pix, too! Thanks for reading. (Oh, and yes — there’s lots of pictures, I had trouble deciding my favorites. So, I won’t be hurt if you don’t look at ’em all)
So, to expand on my song choice as this post’s title: If you want to know more about the album itself, there’s a great post on wikipedia here about the themes behind the conceptual album, and how Joshua Tree was chosen to represent the name of the album itself. Obviously, this album has a multitude of amazing music, and Rolling Stone named my particular song choice as the 93rd Greatest Song of All Time on their top 500 choices. I remember rockin out to this cassette in the 80s (*gulp!* I went there! Cassette tapes?? Really?!), but years later, when it came time to make a CD purchase choice, I went for the 2-CD Greatest Hits set with the b-sides (The Best of 1980-1990), as I’ve been a huge fan of select b-sides of U2 (my faves being Angel of Harlem, which was about Billie Holliday; their AMAZING cover of the Elvis hit Everlasting Love and the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody). But this song in particular touches my heart, it’s soulful and exploring, so of course, while wandering the desert, this Joshua Tree tune was present in my head.
So… What is it exactly that I haven’t found yet? The short list: success in my photography (so that I can take it to a full-time level), enough time and money to travel (to places all around the world that call to me their siren songs), and love (the enduring kind that you get from a significant other).
Success cannot be defined with clarity across the board; success is defined as a sense of internal accomplishment, peace and calm where we’ve met the expectations defined individually within each of our souls. I love capturing priceless moments at weddings, engagement sessions and within families (especially children and babies), and feel that I’m really growing in these areas with each passing day as I get more and more experienced (although as artists, don’t we always seek out how we could still be better, too? I know I do). What would make me feel truly “successful” though would be able to bring in enough earnings from photography to live 100% off of my career solely as a photographer, and still have enough to put away for the personal areas of my life that I still want to live for as well. I strive towards this with every passing day, and before long, I hope to be there. So in the respect of success, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.
Travel calls to my soul as well. Soon I will post travel pictures that I’ve taken that is a whole ‘nother side to what I love to shoot. Ideally, I’d love to publish a book of people and things I shoot while exploring the world beyond my corner of California. And while I’ve been to a lot of fantastic places, I’d still love to see so, so much more. I have the book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” and there’s about 950 still to check off the list! Early next year, I’m determined to get to New Zealand for 3 weeks, rent a car, do farm stays, etc and drive from the North to the South Island and back again. Believe it or not, I’ve also never been to New York City (*gasp!*), so I intend to go for the next — ahem — milestone birthday coming up. Since I’m eternally 29, we’ll call it my 30th birthday trip. 😉 So in this regard of travel, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.
Lastly, the most revealing and hardest thing to share, which is always love. Short story long-n-boring: I had a very long relationship with another photographer for years and years, and it ended with a broken engagement with him approximately 5 years ago, and not terribly well, sadly. For a long time after that, I was probably (albeit not purposely) anti-relationship for myself; although … capturing other people’s love was way more inspiration to get back in the dating game than anything else could have been! Then, a year ago, I re-connected with a college friend who lived in Arizona, who I had known because my sorority often socialized with his fraternity back in the day. This was the push I needed back into the serious dating world, but when he disappeared as quickly as he appeared, without a word, reason or goodbye, I was definitely disappointed, as I’d finally allowed myself to open up and trust freely again. These days, I’ve gotten so used to being able to do what I want, when I want, without having to check in with anyone. But there are times I miss having someone to come home and give a hug to for no reason other than it makes my heart sing. And there’s the “grass is always greener” syndrome: when you’re in a long-term relationship and/or surrounded by kids and the demands of family life, you welcome a little alone time and solidarity, but as a single person, you envy having someone close on-demand. So, I’m ready again, open heart, open arms … and willing to make myself vulnerable again, because really, what is a relationship if you don’t appear to even need anyone’s help, love and support? Of course, they say it arrives when you’re not looking for it either, so in the meantime, I’ll just keep working hard to make my professional dreams come true. But in the realm of enduring love, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.
That’s it! I’ve been thinking about this a long time, and it’s hard to share such personal things at times with the often-faceless internet world at large. But no matter how hard I try to be independent and invincible, part of making myself human and being a strong and confident photographer is also making myself accessible as a human — and like everyone else, just a little vulnerable at times too.
Oh, and if you’ve made it this far — thanks for reading. I really, really appreciate it. It means you care, or you found something to connect with, and that means a lot to me, if I’ve been able to touch a part of you too.