Beautiful People

A funny thing happens to people when a camera is pointed at them.  They turn into posing puppet people. Now, that’s all good and fine for some situations, like a nice family portrait to give to your friends with big smiles and loving attitudes (and they’ll never know you were just frantically trying to fix the fussy toddler’s hair, arguing with the preschooler about ice cream, and secretly planning revenge on the spouse sitting in the other room oblivious to it all…like fifteen minutes before the photo shoot). You head into a studio or other photo session environment, put on big smiles, and allow the photographer to pose your rather awkward puppet bodies into a happy, loving family for this year’s Christmas cards. But let’s face it. It’s usually noticeable that the smiles don’t really go beyond the face…unless your photographer is a really good puppet master. Since I’m still working on that aspect of my photographing skills, I prefer to photograph people in their natural element. Most would call this candid photography. I think I prefer to call it “bet you didn’t know I was looking”.  In my opinion, this is when you get the best shots. The ones full of life and emotion. These shots are the real deal…no acting, no posing, just being. Beautiful people showing beautiful emotions at every end of the spectrum of human expression.

When you follow your loved ones around with your camera ready, you can catch them doing all sorts of things.

Like sleeping at the cafe:

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Hanging out with a friend:

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Blowing bubbles:

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No need to catch the whole scene. Zoom right on in there and catch those wonderful facial expressions while they’re having fun. You can get so many emotions when they don’t know you’re looking, and you can learn so much just by watching people.

You can catch so many smiles of pure joy and amazement:

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You might even catch the loving gaze of a young father as he watches his wife and child:

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Love is always nice to catch on film:

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And sometimes you catch people just lost in thought and wonder where they might be in that other-world of dreams and thought:

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And catching shots of children exploring the world around them, playing, and just generally enjoying life…well, what’s better than that?

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You might even get lucky and get a glamour shot or two along the way:

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Then there are those times when you just catch families doing what families do:

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And occasionally you might happen upon a fairy or two popping in for a visit:

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Or Mother Goose showing off the goslings:

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Or aspiring dancers putting on a practice performance or hanging out in their down time:

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Or an aspiring musician putting on a street performance waiting to be discovered:

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Or a couple of guys contemplating their next chess move:

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But most days you’ll just catch beautiful ordinary people going about their beautiful ordinary lives:

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So get on out there and capture a little life with that camera. Find the beauty in people and all of their emotions.

At Victor’s Pond

One of my favorite places to visit as a child was Victor’s Pond. Now, it really isn’t named that. In fact, it doesn’t even have a name. It is a pond on my daddy’s uncle’s property. His 40 acres was right next door to our 17, so the walk over was a short quarter-mile hike down the dirt road. We didn’t get to go very often when we were young, because we could only go if Daddy went with us and if there weren’t any activities going on at the pond that day. Therefore, the infrequency of the hikes made them all the more special.

One of my fondest memories is walking over there with my Daddy, and nearly every time we went, I would find a little plastic army man, cowboy, or indian. When I was very young, I often wondered if a fairy or friendly ghost was leaving them for me. As I got older, I wondered if these little toys belonged to Victor’s son and if he had lost them while playing. Daddy always let me keep them, and as an adult, I wondered if perhaps he had hidden them in his pocket and dropped them for me to find. I never asked him about it, so it will always remain a mystery.

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Apart from that little adventure, nothing brought more joy than seeing the roof of that little red cabin appear over the hill. Then I knew that beautiful pond was almost in sight. That little red cabin is still a beautiful and welcome sight.

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As I came up on it on this particular day, I took a few photos to remind me of that childhood joy. But I get ahead of myself…

Before you reach the cabin, there is a small holding pond (or overflow pond…I’m not sure which). When I was little, we were always followed over by a passel of dogs. I remember when Black Boy and Butterball, our Rottweiler mixes, were still alive, the first thing they would do was dive into the water. They would swim and swim. Sometimes all you would see was their noses above the water. I often wished I could jump out and swim with them, especially on those hot summer days, but I didn’t know how to swim back then. On this trip, I took a few photos of that still, quiet water. Only memories remain of my long-ago canine friends.

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After passing that holding pond, the little red cabin comes into plain view. When I was young, the little yard leading down to the pond was always well manicured and fresh annuals were always planted and in bloom. Whenever Victor and his wife, Charlotte, were there, she would always be weeding and pruning her prize blooms. It was always fun to sit and talk with them a bit. Now there are no blooms. Victor has passed on, and Charlotte doesn’t get out there much anymore. You can still see where the blooms would be planted amidst the planters and garden trinkets.

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On this particular afternoon, the pond was alive as usual with various little insects. There were dozens of dragonflies flitting about, and I watched them dart here and there a bit. I managed a few photos of these amazing creatures in flight, and they never cease to mesmerize me as they balance atop water grasses and the twigs of logs near the shore.

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Aside from the dragon flies, I also discovered a few spiders and water bugs.

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I ventured around the pond and admired the beautiful water and shoreline. There are a few more trees fallen over into the pond these days.

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When I was young, the pond was fairly clear of logs and such, and Victor had a little green row boat by the cabin that Daddy would take us out in on rare occasion. The boat isn’t there anymore, and the fallen trees dot the shoreline. I waited patiently hoping to see a turtle crawl up on one of the logs. But alas, the one I did see decided it was best to stay in the water.

Later in the day, towards evening, my husband and I decided to take my niece and our dog, Dixie, out to see the pond. They both had a blast, running and playing and making memories of their own.

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My niece and husband decided to do a little photography of their own while Dixie ran about.

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Dixie never braved jumping into the water, though she seemed to want to. My niece ran around everywhere, and she discovered a few bones on the opposite shore. One set, I’m sure, belonged to one of the water birds that frequent the area…perhaps an egret or a great blue heron. We would often hear those birds call out in the early mornings and late evenings as they settled near the water.

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She also found a little mammal skull which, much to her delight and her mother’s chagrin, she decided to take home with her (Aunt Athenia lets her do these things).

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This little trip on this mid-summer day was full of memories of the past and the still-present beauty of today. And I can honestly say, Victor’s Pond is still one of my favorite places to visit.

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