Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Loser

I found myself explaining my favorite picture to a friend of mine the other night, and I thought to myself, "That'd make a good plog post!" so here I am plogging about it.

The picture is entitled "The Loser" (no, it's not a self portrait). As you can see from the image above, it's a very simplistic image, but it holds a lot of personal value. The picture was taken on Cumberland Island off the southeastern coast of Georgia. I was a sophomore in college at the time, and I was going through some difficult times. My YTD (year to date) consisted of: 2 car accidents, a serious breakup, random girl drama, being screwed over on a photography deal, and that feeling that something wasn't right with the group I was hanging out with. All of that made my Spring Break choice to go to Augusta to visit my uncle and travel to Cumberland Island a welcome relief.

On the trip from Augusta to the island, my uncle and I ended up in a car accident (nobody was hurt and no cars were totaled) which ended up causing a lot of stress on the trip. Fortunately for me, this meant that I got some good quiet time to myself. I have a lot of good pictures which will inevitably find their way onto this plog at some point in time, but for the sake of this entry, "The Loser" is my focal point.

So, I decided to take a hike up the island on our one and only full day on the island. I went alone, leaving my uncle to relax on the beach. I probably hiked for about 3 miles before I saw a stallion and 3 mares off in the dunes. As I looked up the beach, I noticed that there was another horse galloping towards me. As this horse approached the three mares ran off over the dunes while their stallion stood its ground. It became apparent to me that this was not going to be a friendly confrontation. I had kept my camera in my backpack until this time because I was using a film camera and I had "enough" horse pictures already.

In terms of location there was the inland portion of the island, the dunes with the three mares, the stallions, me and then the ocean. So here I am with two very angry stallions about to face off, and my only choice is to stand there and watch. If ever there was a time when God wanted me in a place for a reason, that was definitely one of them. Of course, now you must be thinking, "why?" and I'll tell you why.

They started fighting. It wasn't like something you'd see on the Discovery Channel, but it was a fight nonetheless. They were rearing up and hitting each other with their hooves and sand was flying everywhere. After about 5 minutes of this a victor was determined. The horse who stood his ground kept his mares, and the one who had galloped down the island just to face this other horse was the loser.

I looked at this horse as the other stallion trotted over to escort his mares away and began snapping pictures. There was a sadness in this horse. We both knew he had lost. I was trying my best to remain relatively motionless. I didn't want him to get mad at me for being there to witness his defeat. I was planning an emergency exit strategy at the same time too. It mostly consisted of running into the ocean and praying that he wouldn't follow me... To my good fortune, that never happened.

The poor horse watched as the others continued to recede into the interior of the island. Then he turned and began to walk away. He came pretty close to me, sniffing some scat left as a territory marker by the successful party. It was as I was snapping these pictures that he paused and looked at me. I stopped what I was doing and looked into his eyes. It was then that I realized that we both knew what it meant to lose. All of my struggles of the past year could be summed up in that bout. I gave him a knowing nod, and he turned and walked back down the island the way he came.

As the horse walked away I got the final picture and bade him Godspeed. I will never forget that moment. Losing is a part of life. I've known that for years, but, after witnessing that situation, I feel okay with it. I know that no matter what happens at the end of the day I can always turn around and walk back down that beach, and no matter the shame I feel at the time, there will always be a better tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

You Never Know When Someone Might Be Watching

"You're a weird photographer," the text message read. I paused in the hall, looked around, and wondered from which vista I had been spotted as I took my shot.

I guess it's true, I am a bit of a strange photographer. I will lay prone on the floor if it gets me the shot that I want. I take pictures of random things that most people don't find interesting or important. I am known for taking some pretty morbid photos as well. On one particular adventure to Cumberland Island, I was caught taking pictures of a bird that had died on the beach and, for some reason or another, had no eyes. There wasn't any other damage to the bird that I could see. I wasn't about to touch it... but that didn't stop me from getting in close and getting some pretty cool shots.

One of my first set of morbid photos that I can remember was from way back in high school. We had a "Wildlife Management" class where we did everything from learning how to rappel (which we did off of the school's football stadium) to trapping and even taxidermy. That's right, taxidermy... you see where I'm going with this. The stench was awful, but the pics were so cool. Fortunately for you I don't have my favorite picture anywhere near my computer (I was using film) or I would post it on here. Maybe one day I'll dig that up for this blog. That'd be great.