26 June 2013

"Control Your Own Destiny or Someone Else Will"

The great and amazing, Panda with Lil' P on the bed © 2013 Terrell Neasley
"Control your own destiny or someone else will."
~Jack Welch 

This last blog post made me recall a conversation I had recently with an individual whom, without going into specifics, lets just say I had to engage him. During the course of the discussion, this individual became appalled at a couple of strong declarations I made in which I described being adamant about life decisions which he determined to be unwise and unforgiving to say the least.

Art Model, Panda © 2013 Terrell Neasley
There are, for sure, some things I am simply adamant about, but I will not say absolute and resolute. One of these is that I have no intention of returning to a regular 9 to 5 job. I follow that statement up with this interjection, that in no way am I minimizing anybody's job, way of life, or economic choices. We all do what we have to do. My choices are for me because they suite me and are not intended to be a model for anyone else. Right now, that's not my path. I've been there and done it. I've made money for other people, given the priority of my time to other people, and sacrificed my own well-being for other people. My choices, my time, and my money are regulated by me at this point. When I have means, I do things. When I'm broke, I sit my ass down.

Art Model, Panda
© 2013 Terrell Neasley
Where I am not so resolute in this statement is when opportunities present themselves where my objectives can be realized via employment under an entity that pays extremely well and there is no significant sacrifice on my time and personal objectives. Case in point...I work 2 days at B&C Camera. I am employed by my friend and fellow photographer, Joe Dumic. I get a salary (not an extremely well one, I grant you), but I also get to work under a genius of a businessman. My time is not significantly sacrificed and when I need more time, I take it. As his friend, I am considerate about this. I don't just leave him high and dry with no notice. That's just rude.

The aforementioned individual at the beginning of this post could not understand my position or mentality to commit myself to my choices. I know what is important to me and that means more than selling a product or service that isn't aligned with my goals. Now its time to work for myself and my own objectives. If I fail, then its on me. I've played by the rules with the job thing and I simply can't leave my future in the hands of a company who's management operates for the benefit of the owner(s). I am simply a means for a function of profit that is not my own where cutting labor is often a first step towards minimizing costs when management screws up.

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."
~George Bernard Shaw 

Art Model, Panda © 2013 Terrell Neasley
I feel confident in my faith, my upbringing, and myself. But when I do fail, I am also confident in the fact that I am resilient and resourceful enough to get up and try again. I have a history of tenacity and I think this is my time to give it a shot doing what I love. Photography is not only a means to that end, but also a reason for my passions. Your's might be fishing. I served with a guy who bought a Dodge truck and a bass fishing boat from winnings he was awarded over the course of a year. That was his passion and he built upon it. Guess what he did after the Army! The man became a pro bass fisherman. He told me it was the best job in the world, but really he meant it was the best job in the world FOR HIM.

Art Model, Panda © 2013 Terrell Neasley
Photography may not give me ALL the means for my objectives. I'm not sure I'll ever get my Tartan series yacht and circumnavigate the world sailing the South Pacific indefinitely on photography alone. I'm not even sure I can travel to the upcoming places I need to visit by way of photography. [Oh yeah, if you need a personal photog on YOUR travels and excursions, feel free to look me up. I am the bomb-diggidy.] If I can manage this, then that will simply be a dream come true. But whatever means I employ to achieve those goals, it won't take away from my photography. "Life is either a Great Adventure or Nothing". I chose the Great Adventure.

25 June 2013

"Life is Either a Great Adventure or Nothing"

Art Model, Kristi C., playing in the California mountains ©2013 Terrell Neasley
"Life is either a great adventure or nothing."
~Helen Keller 

And such is the nature of life. Challenges hit us. We make plans. Then Life happens. What do you do? You make a new plan. So that's what I'm doing. I'm sticking to the goals, but just altering how I get there. Setbacks and a few project collapses have cause me to delay my next travel excursion. I'll admit to some disappointment, but at the same time some new opportunities present themselves. New ideas and considerations have me even more excited than I had been previously. I just have to work things out. Okay, so plans change. You're only mad if you're too inflexible to change with them. So I'm just gonna roll with this and keep moving forward trying to make the best decisions I can with the information and opportunities I make for myself.

Art Model, Kristi C.©2013 Terrell Neasley
I think its this way in many of our lives. Things hit us and we stay down, or decide to quit, or sometimes become bitter about the original choice to act on a dream. Excuses of all kinds begin to creep in and layer a coat of sugar on the fact that we've failed. This is a natural human reaction we conjure to help us feel better about quitting. The only problem is that choice will often come back to haunt you later.

Art Model, Kristi C.©2013 Terrell Neasley
As a kid, I frequently had a tendency to sit and listen to the stories of old people. Listening to the elderly garners wisdom. That's not the way I looked at it then, I assure you. Mine was one of curiosity. I had never been anywhere, so I'd listen to stories of people's experiences and go home to pretend that I could visit those places and experiences the adult things they'd tell me about.

Art Model, Kristi C.
©2013 Terrell Neasley
"As you grow older, you'll find the only things you regret are the things you didn't do."
~Zachary Scott

But I can think back to moments where I would also here stories of regret. They would never say they regretted anything openly, but as I replay some of those stories in my adult mind, you can sense it. I remember talk of wishing they were 30 years younger or maybe talk of the benefits of being my age. They'd talk of what they'd do differently given what they know now. You'd here them discuss an ALMOST achievement, but something came up...maybe a death in the family, kids that came along, or a bad economy.

Art Model, Kristi C.©2013 Terrell Neasley
This is one of the things that I want...GREAT STORIES, from now til I'm no more. And then I want people talking about my adventures after I'm gone. I want it evident that I lived life to the fullest. That I maximized my opportunities, and that I was the kind of guy that did whatever he set out to do. This is the legacy that I want to leave for my kids and the rest that come after me. I want my life to be a model of a good example of the kid who made things happen. I've never had any special advantages. No silver spoon here. So if this empty-handed kid from Texas can do it, you can too. I want to die exhausted with no regrets. I can live with bad choices because I tried something new, took chances, or blazed my own trail instead of meandering with the crowd. When I do face my end, I want to face it looking forward. Death should simply be the next adventure.

**By the way...see the girl in the pics? As the captions evidently state, that's art model Kristi C. Know what's cool about her? She's on that same mission..."Life is either an adventure or nothing". I so love that quote!**

08 June 2013

On Judy Blume...

Art Model, Leslie ©2013 Terrell Neasley
"The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers."
~Judy Blume 

My mom got me involved in reading at an early age. As a teacher, education was an important factor in our daily lives. And one thing in particular that I appreciate her for is the fact that she didn't force reading on us. Oh we had our summer educational chores, mind you. How many of you know what a Cyclo-Teacher is? Well that was a learning aid that covered science, math, spelling, and everything. My brother and I spent considerable time most every day when school was out on this thing.

Art Model, Leslie ©2013 Terrell Neasley
But reading, Mama made fun. I closed down to many of my teachers that would force me to read books I had no interest in. Mama got us involved in the local library reading contests early. She made it meaningful for us to have our very own library cards with our names printed on them. This is well before the internet AND Atari. I could see that it pleased Mama to bring home a big stack of books. And if you brought them home, you read them. Conversely, I could also see Mama's disappointment if we selected something that tended to be "too easy", which geared me towards books with no pictures that got thicker and thicker. By middle school, we had a beautiful, brand new, full volume World Book Encyclopedia set. Not many kids could say that in my neighborhood. I can't say I went through the entire volume, but there were days I would just start with the letter "A" and simply read.

"Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear."
~Judy Blume

Art Model, Leslie ©2013 Terrell Neasley
Most of my books early on were about ant, bees, and spiders. I even used to have some bees for a little while. I didn't read much non-fiction early on, but when I did, I latched onto Judy Blume's "Tales of a Forth-Grade Nothing"! I think I was in the fifth grade at the time when I was reading it. At the time I didn't realize Judy Blume was such a controversial author, but her books have been on many-a ban lists and she's one of the most challenged authors of the 21st century. She writes for kids, but challenges our ability to handle the more controversial topics common to growing up. She tended to address bullying before it was more mainstream to do so. She took on the racism and divorce. And nobody was tackling the menstrual cycle, masturbation, or teen sex like she has done.

Art Model, Leslie
©2013 Terrell Neasley
According to Wikipedia, a feature film based on one of her most popular books, "Tiger Eyes" was released today in art house cinemas and video-on-demand. You can also listen to her interview on NPR. Y'all know how much I like me some NPR. This woman is a perpetually significant author and a definitive pioneer in literature, especially for young girls. She connects with youths in a much more meaningful manner than other most other authors who strictly entertain. She addresses issues that parents might often find difficult to confront and puts them front and center when others would choose to ignore. I know I had those moments that I simply couldn't go to Mama for help, but kids still get a sense of connection with Mrs. Blume. She has simply found a way to relate and understand. I'd love to see schools who once shunned her work, bring them back in as required reading. I'd like to think we've evolved a bit further on these matters. Follow her on Twitter! She loves tweet'n!

Art Model, Leslie ©2013 Terrell Neasley
Many thanks to my dear friend, Art Model Leslie for posing for me. These images come only 10 days after neck surgery, yet she still had the stamina and guts to shoot with me. I tell you I love this woman for her courage to simply be who she is. There was no hiding behind the scar on her neck. She's actually proud of it, because it represents an end to the pain she was dealing with for so long. She's not only a durable sort of woman, but she's also pretty damn smart. I walked out from this shoot with a couple points added to my I.Q. She's inspired me to renew my interest in the domestic environmental nude. There will be more.

04 June 2013

On Jean Stapleton...

Art Model, Kristi C. ©2013 Terrell Neasley

"I wish we could all make a more concerted effort to appreciate, laud, celebrate, and bestow gratitude on deserving people while they are yet here to receive it. No one would ever go unappreciated as of a result of it."
~Terrell Neasley

There are probably fewer people in the world who can formulate a face in their minds when they hear the name, Jean Stapleton. However, if I asked you if you knew Edith Bunker, you can not only see that face, but you can also hear that voice as well. Sadly, Jean Stapleton passed away a few days ago. Actually, let me take that back. Its wasn't a sad thing. The lady lived into her 90's. She had a long life and her's is celebrated. I don't know her or remember any other roll that she played in outside of the "All in the Family" situation comedy that aired during my time as a kid in the 70's.

Art Model, Kristi C. ©2013 Terrell Neasley
Few people know that "The Jeffersons" spun off from this show and these along with "Good Times" were my first windows to important events and issues that went on in the world. This was my first look at race and gender issues and Jean Stapleton was an integral part of my social education. If anything is really sad, its that I don't think many people really gave her the dues and admiration that should be accorded someone of her contributions to television and acting, to include myself.

Then again...maybe that was her gift. There are some professions and roles that the better you are, the less you are seen. Referees have been recently described as such. They do their jobs well enough that you do not even see them. I would say soldiers are the same. Our job is to stand in the gap so that you can sleep at night. These are the unsung and oft-times less celebrated professions and roles in society. Jean's gift to us was to make us believe, understand, become aware, and educate, all under the guise of entertaining us and making us laugh. And she did this all the while staying invisible. I hope there are more tributes and recognition afforded to her and her family than I have seen thus far. I wish we could all make a more concerted effort to appreciate, laud, celebrate, and bestow gratitude on deserving people while they are yet here to receive it. No one would ever go unappreciated as of a result of it.

Art Model, Kristi C. ©2013 Terrell Neasley
“Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart.”
~Zig Ziglar

This past week has been a good one. I've been hard at work on edits from a couple shoots that were absolutely astounding and propitious. Two of the most intriguing women you'll ever meet where front and centered of my lenses this past week and I'm greatly excited about our future work. One of which is Kristi C., whom you're witnessing as you read. This year is half-way done almost and I'm glad I've maintained my focus of reestablishing my art nude work. I entered 2013 shooting nudes and it is now my goal to be doing the same thing as this year gives way to the next.

Art Model, Kristi C. ©2013 Terrell Neasley
Kristi and her pooch, Cuki have the type of inseparable bond only found in the closest of friends and families and it is aptly illustrated in this series of work. They've inspired me to pursue more nudes with their pets. If others can give me half of what I got from Kristi and Cuki, I'll be good to go. Cuki is a champion Vizsla who competes in agility competitions, trained by Kristi who is also an avid horsewoman, photographer, and artist. This is probably why we gel so easily and well. I greatly benefit from working with other creatives and its a blessing to have their ideas, input, and feedback. While I have her, she won't go unseen or under-appreciated.