Yes to Santa Fe

  

Yes to Santa Fe

A few weeks ago I shared my experiences from attending the Santa Fe Photography Workshop with you. The city of Santa Fe (which means, “holy faith” in Spanish), was founded by Spanish colonists in 1610, making it the oldest state capital.

We first visited Santa Fe in 1990, during our children’s winter break. The time-share we stayed in is called Otra Vez, and is in the heart of the old city. It was during the holiday season, and there were bags filled with sand and a lit candle inside everywhere, which created a beautiful picture at night. On Christmas Eve, owners of the galleries lined up along Canyon Road were serving hot punch. In the local Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, which was built in 1837, there was a midnight mass that was attended by thousands of people. (Almost thirty years later, I still see the picture in my mind).

Since then, we returned here again and again, throughout different times of the year — just to relax, shop and dine. We drove around, visiting Taos and other local destinations. Once we came here in October with a special purpose to visit the Abiquiu home and Studio, where the famous painter Georgia O’Keeffe lived her last years (her museum is in Santa Fe), about an hour drive from Santa Fe. When I woke up in the morning, I was surprised to see what looked like San Francisco’s fog through the window. It was snow slowly falling down and covering the grounds and our car, which we had to dig out to get there on time. This trip, like many others, left a lot of pleasant memories. And then, about seven years ago, I discovered the Santa Fe Photographic Workshop. Since then, our trips here are connected with my improving photography skills.

To get there, we usually fly to Albuquerque, though there is a small local airport in Santa Fe. It takes about an hour and a half to climb up to 7000 ft. Because of the elevation, we need to drink a lot of water while here. There is so much to experience. There is a very good, small art museum. On Sundays, local Indian tribe members sell their exquisite jewelry in the main square. We have dined at a variety of fine restaurants. This town is known for many art galleries and the great “Photo-Eye Books & Prints” store. During this trip, I bought eight books, which cannot be found in other stores. The store does not carry my “42 Encounters” books yet; though I plan to send them for the future. But you do not have to wait. Just go to Amazon.com and check out “42 Encounters”.

P.S. I hope that this short story will entice you to visit this magical place. Meanwhile, enjoy these four images.

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Where Is The East Cut?

  

Where Is The East Cut?

I had no idea where it is either, and I imagine most San Franciscans hadn’t either. I first read about it in an article by Carl Nolte, who is a regular contributor to the Sunday SF Chronicle. On July 14th, 2019 the article titled, “Neighborhoods renamed, but history remains” informed the readers that the last time an area in our city was renamed was in 1847, when Yerba Buena was rechristened San Francisco.

This time, a part of the neighborhood known as SOMA (South of Market), got a new name: “Start at the East Cutand end up at Thrive City. Its only about 2 miles. Right through a new world. To start with, the names will baffle a lot of San Franciscans.” I guess it was important to name the part of San Francisco which represents the new important face of our city – the technology hub, but also the new bus terminal, and the urban garden on its roof. The article prompted my interest to visit the park named Salesforce Park. The official address of the bus terminal is 425 Mission Street. So on Sunday afternoon, we took Max and drove there. We were lucky to find parking on Fremont Street, not far from the Park. The elevator took us to the fourth floor. From Mission Street, visitors can also “get to the park with a ride on a gondolaa boxy car slung below steelcables”. And suddenly we arrived into a different world. From the congestion of the high-rise building, we stepped out into the garden. The place reminded me of the High Line elevated park in New York, which opened in 2009. Perhaps by coincidence, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, which opened in 1871, was modeled after New York’s Central Park, which opened in 1857.

What makes the Park unique is that it is surrounded by San Francisco’s major technology companies. The new Salesforce Tower is located at 415 Mission, and I was told that its 6,600 employees occupy three other neighboring buildings as well. The company paid $110 million for a 25-year sponsorship to have the name of the park be Salesforce Park as well as Salesforce Transit Center. Another giant company, Facebook, is located next door at 181 Fremont. Thanks to them and San Francisco’s urban planners, people who live in the East Cut can enjoy a beautiful oasis.

P.S. While walking around the park, we saw a children’s playground, a place to sit and relax, and even a library. To keep the place orderly and clean, there are many “ambassadors” in yellow jackets. One of them, seeing Max, asked if he is a service dog (he is, since I secured my “Emotional support Animal” card for him). What I think is lacking in the park is a playground for dogs, since there is no other place in downtown for dog lovers to enjoy their companions. You can see more dog lovers in San Francisco in my photo-story book “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers, buy it on Amazon.com.

These four images are my encounters in the park.

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How Not To Fall From The Cliff

  

How Not To Fall From The Cliff

As I mentioned last week, I attended a photography workshop in Santa Fe a few weeks ago. Originally I was attracted to the title of the workshop – “The Poetry of Perception”, since I am a poet at heart. I had not heard of the instructor before, but when I checked Keith Carter’s work online, I immediately knew that he was “the right guy”. This was confirmed when I received his latest photo-book titled, “Keith Carter: Fifty Years.” I saw photographs, which looked more like paintings. I was always taught that the photograph has to be sharp (in focus), and suddenly I realized that it is OK to have out of focus photos, as long as it is intentional (which for Keith started as a fluke). To have this effect, I decided to buy a special photo lens, which allowed me to see my images in a different way, which I liked. The workshop began on a Sunday evening, and ended with the final show of our work on Friday evening. All fifteen participants, who came from different parts of the U.S., were good photographers. Each of us showed our works as prints, or on the screen, and I learned a great deal from every one, and of course from Mr. Carter who showed his works as well as the works of other artists. We read poetry and visited two locations to photograph models. After each excursion, we had to produce a new group of images, that we shared with the group the next day, and Keith expressed his critique.

A few months ago, I started putting together a new group of my images. Gradually it evolved into an idea for a new book. Two weeks before coming to the workshop, I compiled one hundred images, each paired in one common theme. I called it “Singularity from Duality”. Thus, while others shared about fifteen images, I brought my two books plus two albums filled with a variety of images. In addition, each day we had to show our new work. One day one of the participants told me, “You are different from all of us, you are an artist”. Looking at my photography and seeing me photographing all the time, Keith said that I am the hardest working photographer; a “force of nature”. While I appreciated the compliments, for me, the workshop experience meant something else.

At the beginning of the workshop, we had to fill out a questionnaire with one of the questions – “What results do I expect from the workshop?” I wrote, “To find my own voice.” When I shared the results of the experience at the end of the workshop, I compared it to running toward a cliff. You do not have to run, you can always stop and go back. Or realize that you have wings and can fly in any direction. This is what “the poetry of perception” meant for me. One of my new artistic self-expressions is creating diptychs. It is when two images connect together into one theme. These four images are from the group’s last show. While I am still photographing daily, some of the results are going to become diptychs or even triptychs.

P.S. I am grateful for your reading my stories and seeing the results of my artistic expression. I greatly appreciate your comments and would like you to have a piece of my creativity by buying my two “42 Encounters” books on Amazon.com. The third one is on the way.

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To Ask or Not To Ask

  

To Ask or Not To Ask

I am writing this story in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The purpose of our visit here was not a vacation; but rather, to participate in a workshop organized by the Santa Fe Photographic workshops. It is my fourth workshop with this incredible organization. We went with them to Cuba in 2013. This time, the title was “The Poetry of Perception” and was taught by renowned photographer, Keith Carter. Next week I will share with you more information about my experience and share some of the images I took during this trip.

I call my style “encounters photography”. Many of my images include portraits of the people I encountered during my everyday activities. This is how I was able to produce three photo-story books. On the first day here, after dinner, I noticed a young man in a coffee shop. What stood out for me was he wore a red tie. With the temperature close to 90°F, wearing a tie didn’t make much sense. So for me, he was a good candidate to photograph. While I checked for the right angle, I asked if he was required to wear a tie at his work. This brief encounter allowed us to establish a relationship. Therefore, when I pulled out my portable camera, he just smiled. There were four young women sitting at another table. Suddenly one of them told me that I have to ask for permission to take a photograph (mind you, I was not photographing them). Then another informed me that in her photography class her instructor told the students that they have to ask for permission before photographing someone. My first reaction was to ignore them, and then I snapped back, “In my photo-class I tell my students that they can do anything”. But this encounter made me think.

Many photographers, including those in our group, are not comfortable to photograph strangers, and their reason is that they think it is an invasion in other people’s privacy. For some of my photo-subjects it is, and when they see me taking their photo, they ask me to delete their images, which I gladly do. In some of the instances I offer for them to see the result first, and if they do not like it, then I gladly get rid of their likeness (with the digital camera it is very easy). Often after seeing the results they allow me to keep it, and even pose for a “better” image. This brings me to my recommendation – If you are not comfortable with photographing strangers, don’t (there are many other things in life to photograph). But if you’re still tempted, especially during foreign travels, definitely ask their permission, or even better, take one of the street photography classes offered by the Santa Fe Photographic workshops to do it right. But you can also learn from books, like both of my “42 Encounters” photo-books. The third one is on the way. You can buy my books on Amazon.com.

P.S. The four portraits are my encounters in Santa Fe on this trip. I got consent from each of them.

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What Is Your Legacy?

  

What Is Your Legacy?

I was helping a client recently, who required a creative mortgage solution. After a career as an engineer, he is currently doing what he always liked to do – finding art bargains and reselling them at auctions. After seeing my photo-gallery in our office, he told me that he thinks a lot of people would like to own my prints, and he can help to sell them. I was flattered, and I knew from personal experience that printing (I like a larger sized print) and framing has a significant upfront expense. “Why would I bother with it?” I asked. “To leave a legacy”, was his answer.

On legacyproject.org I learned that “legacy is fundamental to what is to be human. Research shows that without a sense of working to create a legacy, adults lose meaning of life.”  The dictionary defines legacy as “an amount of money or property left to someone in a will.”

Most people would like to be remembered. For them, the home they own or the remaining equity (which is the appraised value minus the current loan) often represents their major asset. Often in their minds this is what is left after they are gone and represents their legacy. Some want to leave their home after their death to their children, others to charity. However, there might be a “slight” problem. Because people live longer and since a majority would prefer to die in their home, people often run out of money. Many do not want to sell or cannot because it can only make the situation worse. After paying off a mortgage, capital gains and real estate commission, not much is left to live on. And not much is left for the legacy.

Perhaps this sounds like an advertisement, but for many homeowners the solution is often in securing a reverse mortgage. This may be why I have recently received a lot of inquiries for this opportunity. I helped clients buy a home with a reverse mortgage after they were evicted. A friend, who spent two million dollars on medical bills, was able to have some money and no mortgage payments. A client got the money to do extensive surgery; another one got extra money for his real estate investments. And an eighty-seven years young man could fix the roof of his house and had money to buy a new car, and plenty left to enjoy the rest of his life. The stories go on. It is almost like having your cake and eating it too.

There is a lot of confusion and misinformation about reverse mortgages. Not everyone can get a reverse mortgage, but for many this is an opportunity to enjoy the rest of their lives and to leave a legacy.

Please call me to find out how.

P.S. Meanwhile, please help me to preserve my legacy by buying “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers” on Amazon.com. The four images you see are my photography which is on the walls in our office, which I use as my personal art gallery.

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