About this blog title

I cannot tell you how many times I have shown up at events with a couple of cameras around my neck, a gadget bag full of odds & ends and a lighting kit and have been asked that question. If it happened once every few years, that would be one thing. But it happens a LOT. It's like getting pulled over by the police and he's standing there with uniform, gun, flashing lights and asking him "Are you a cop?" I would love to come back with a witty reply, such as "No, I am Jesus. Don't you recognize my beard?" However, I cannot be that rude.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 119: Limerick Wall

It only reached about 65 degrees in Chaumont, NY today. It was windy, Sun and some clouds. I played guitar at the framer's market in Watertown which is about 12 miles from where I live. The playing went well. The market was crouded and I saw many people I knew, some whom I had not seen in quite a long time.

This photo was taken in the hamlet of Limerick which is five miles from my home. I was enroute to Watertown one day and when I recahed Limerick I discovered I had left the house without my wallet. So, I pulled into a driveway to turn around and spotted this wall and tree. I had to photograph it. Now, it was at first frustrating to learn I had to back track five miles to get my wallet, I wouldn't have made this photo had that not happened. Serendipity? Maybe.

"In making tactical dispositions, the highest pitch you can attain is to conceal them; conceal your dispositions, and you will be safe from the prying of the subtlest spies, from the machinations of the wisest brains." Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 118: Family Photo

Today was rather pleasant as far as the weather goes. It was windy and cool. It rained briefly, but for the most part we had Sun. I took care of a lot of paper work and drudgery stuff. The photo below comes from my Family & Friends series.
The people closest to you can be a source of subject matter that you cannot get elsewhere. Being on the inside of their lives you are able to witness them in all their various moods and facets of their lives. If you are like me and have a camera with you almost always, then they become accustomed to you snapping away at things. Watch what they are doing and their interactions. Try to make images that express something that is universal to the human psyche rather than pictures of them that only have meaning to their immediate family. That is what I try to do. I also try to make images that raise questions in the viewers mind. I believe the photo here does that.

“The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” Johann Sebastian Bach

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 117: Wedding Photo

It rained and rained all night long in Chaumont, NY. I mowed the grass in the morening. Good thing I did that.

Rachmaninoff: "In art the horizon is always receding."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 115: Fog & Rain

It was 64 degrees this morning in Chaumont, NY. I am putting in yet another long, full day. The pictures presented here were taken in the last couple of days. They are weather photos. The weather is always changing and consequently offers a variety of photo ops.
This fog photo I shot about 6:30AM in the hamlet of Limerick which is located between Chaumont, Dexter, and Brownville in Jefferson County, NY. The photo below I snapped quickly while enroute to a job in Syracuse. The color of the umbrella grabbed my eye as did the pink object he is carrying. I have no idea what it is. I would have liked to follow him down the street to "work" the picture, but I was on a tight schedule, so I had to let him go. By working the picture, I mean to keep photographing the subject, follow and shoot as the background changes, uses different focal length lenses, shoot some closers and some farther away. I do believe that were he photographed in a different spot on the street it could have improved the photo. As it is, it just documents what I saw as a bit odd: the pink thing and the way he held the umbrella so that it obscured his face and head.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 114: Guitar At The Boldt Farm

So yesterday I played guitar at a fund raising event for the Thousand Islands Art Center. They have an annual architectural tour. This year it was at a privately owned property on wellsley Island known as The Boldt Back Farm. It was built originally by George Boldt, builder of the famed Boldt Castle on Heart Island in the Saint Lawrence River, Alexandria Bay NY. It was a nice event, attended by some great people.
The photos presented here I took at that event in between sets.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 113: Blue Moon At Sunny Bank

It rained on and off all day today. The Sun would come out and you would think it wasall done raining, and then, another deluge would hit. Loads and loads of rain here in the North Country.l
By around 5:30pm the rain stopped, the Sun came out and this time stayed out. So the better half and I took a drive to Cape Vincent and stopped in at the Sunny Bank Restaurant. It's located along the St. Lawrence River about 12 miles or so from my home. I had a Blue Moon beer. It was about 7:30pm and the light on the glass and the Blue Moon logo made for nice photo. The Sunny Bank has been around for awhile, however, it was my first visit there. A friend of mine has been trying to get me there for ten years. I really liked the place. It's a low key atmosphere. You need to go out of your way to get there. The food was basic and good. I had some fall of the bone ribs that were pretty darn good. Some places have food to truly rave about. I can't say that for this place, but it was good. It's a satisfying place to go after putting in a day working on the boat, or cleaning out the garage. You don't need to over do your appearance. You wash your hands, change your shirt and go have a beer or two and some food. It's that kind of simple. Check it out the next time your in the Cape.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 112: Joy & Grief

In keeping with yesterday's post, I want to put my money where my mouth is. I suggested you photograph what ever it is in front of you, no matter how uncomfortable the subject matter, and then worry about showing it, or not showing later. You see, you can photograph something and keep it to yourself. If days, months, or years later you decide to show it to someone, or to the world, you will have it. You cannot go back in time to re-photograph it. The photo above is from a photo essay I did about my father. He was a troubled man and his life ended in suicide. That was most difficult for me. I sat on the pictures I took of him for ten years. I showed them to no one. I was devestated by his death. Then one day a friend & co-worker of mine committed suicide. I never saw that one coming either. Well, I decided then to re-visit my father's suicide and tell my story / his story, as best as I could through the photographs I had taken of him. You can view one version of that photo essay by clicking here:
Photographs Of My Father

Let me say this: It has been 23 years since his suicide and it still seems like yesterday. He was 56 when he died, and that is how old I now am.
But let me end on an upbeat note. For all of lifes ups and down, as shitty as it can get, and I have had some shitty times, I love life and living. I wouldn't trade any of it. You cannot have the light without the dark. The highs without the lows. And remember this, the joyousness of your life can only be as great as the depths of your grief. Joy and grief go hand in hand. Kahlil Gibran phrased it most eloquently, when one is at your table the other is asleep in your bed.

Day 111: Another Grab Shot

I pulled into the driveway of a friends house in Brownville, NY to watch a parade. I see this neighbor kid sitting on his front entranceway porch. The light is nice. I like the kids face and pose. Hurriedly I grab the camera and make a quick snap through the dirty drivers side window. Then, I put the window down and make a couple of more snaps. However, the boy noticed me. I asked him not to move, and grabbed a couple more shots. You see, I was concerned about the degradation of the image being shot through the dirty window. However, my brief interaction with the kid polluted the situation. In the end, it was the first frame, the grab shot through that window that worked the best. The lesson here is shoot first, ask questions later. By that I mean, if you see it, photograph it as quickly as possible. Afterwards you can sort out the ethics and moral issues of whether or not you should have taken the picture in the first place. I think the real issue is shoot the photo and then decide if you should circulate it or not. Sometimes a photo is sensitive, so what the Hell, take it, but keep it to yourself. Reveal it later, years later, maybe after you are dead. How would it be if no one had photographed the horrific scenes in the ghettos of Poland and the concentration camps of World War II? All that would be left would be verbal anecdotes. Take the picture. It may be uncomfortable at the time, but if you don't, you can not go back to get it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 110: Summer & Inspiration

Well today is the first day of Summer. I snapped this photo on Route 180 near Dexter, NY. It was all about the cloud that caught my eye. I am not saying this is a great photo, however, I did want some sort of photo for this blog that said Summer. This is what I came up with. You should try that too. If you have photographers block ( you know, like writers block)and don't seem to be seeing any photos, then assign yourself something to illustrate with a photo. Something like speed, or boredom, marriage, terror, Summer, Fall, and so on. I would suggest colors, but they are really too easy. Go shoot the color RED! Go shoot the color BLUE! Actually, colors are a good idea if it gets you looking at the world around you. Ideas and inspiration come about from the act of doing. You might set out to photograph something blue and that is what gets you focused on DOING something. When you find that blue something, start snapping away at it. Shoot it close up, far away, from above, below, from this angle and that angle. keep shooting it. Don't be worried about making an artsy picture. Just work away at your subject. You are now in the act of "doing" which begins the creative process. You must be in persuit of something for inspiration to strike. Pablo Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”
The following photo was taken on The Last Day Of Spring in St. Lawrence County, NY, driving home on Route 11 from a guitar gig at Julian's Restaurant.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 107: Guitar Gigs

Yesterday was my first appearance for the 2010 Summer season at Teaism in Clayton, NY, for a lunch time guitar gig. I have decided that through July and August I'll be there on Wednesdays, about 11:30-1:30. It's somewhat informal, so it may be 12;00-2:00. No matter, I'll be there. They have flavored ice teas, wine, beer, lunch. If you are in the area stop in. If you have any questions about guitar or classical guitar music, I'm there to share what I know.
For me, it was a great joy to be back at the tea garden. It was also a great opportunity to try out a few new pieces of music as I try to add them to my repertoire. This Sunday, Father's Day, I will be playing from 4:00 to 7:00 at Julian's restaurant, 38 Market St., Potsdam, NY. It's my first time there and I am looking forward to it.
Click Teaism to learn more about them. They are located at 226 James St Clayton NY 13624 Email : teaism@wingedbull.com. Phone : 1.315.686.5722
Julian's Restaurant is at 38 Market Street, Potsdam, NY 13676
phone: (315) 274-9300
Visit Julians FaceBook page.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 105: More Cake Crumbs

The days have been really rainy here in northern NY. The dreary days get to you after awhile.

A few weeks ago my schedule changed with my primary employer and it's taking some time to adjust. In fact, the past 18 months have been some of the most trying for me in many years. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In the mean time, it's been dificult to keep making daily blog entries. It seems like it would be easy to place a fresh photograph up every day. It turns out to be more challenging than I thought. So, inevitably, I may miss some daily postings until things get smoothed out and I develop a new routine.

Today's photo:

This photo was taken at Winged Bull Studio. I was there visiting the proprietor and he offered me a piece of cake. After I consumed it I sat the plate & fork down and suddenly the shape of the objects, the few remaining crumbs, the light, all those things came together and caught my eye. So, once again, I photographed it. Now, speaking of Winged Bull Studio, they have a tea garden in the back called Teaism. Tomorrow I will be playing classical guitar there. It will be my first Thursday lunch session for the Summer season. Unless other unforseen changes take place, I should be there every Thursday through July & August. They are located on James st in Clayton, NY, next door to the Koffee Cove restaurant. Hope to see you there.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 103: Flag Day

These photos taken in Alexandria bay, NY.

On June 14, 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned appropriate ceremonies for the children of his school, and his idea of observing Flag Day was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York. On June 14, 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration, and on June 14 of the following year, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution, celebrated Flag Day.
Read the entire history at http://www.usflag.org/history/flagday.html

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day Onehundred two: Wedding Photo

Today is cool, gray, a tad rainy in Chaumont, NY. It is Sunday and I am photographing a wedding today. Sunday's are starting to be more common for weddings, at least in my area the last couple of years.

This was a "grab" shot. An unplanned group photo at a recent wedding I photographed. It is another example of being alert to what is going on around you and being ready to respond to spontaneous moments. In this case the bride picked up her niece for a photo. Well, there's not much that will takle attention away from a bride other than a cute baby. Anyhow, I noticed the brides mother, sister, and others in the background watching me photograph the bride and her niece. They are all happy, seeing a photo being made of two of the day's leading lady and supporting star. So, I wanted to include them in the photo. Worried that they might move, I held my hands up and told them, "Everybody freeze, just where you are." And then I snapped the photo. You see, groups of people just naturally fall into poses, or arrangements, as part of the un-concious social order of things. (Am I making sense?) Anyhow, arranging people for group shots can be a challenge. So, when they fall into place naturally, be ready to grab the photo.
Though the bride was posing with the infant, the folks in the background were unposed. They were just standing in the background watching, in a natural state. One of the key things I strive for in any photo shoot of people is to get that feeling of naturalness. I want things to look real, unposed, un-contrived.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day Onehundred: Time For Beer

photo by Gary Walts ( as all photos on this blog are).
Hey, if there is one thing we like at this blog, it's beer! And what better way to celebrate my 100th day of this blog. Well, I almost didn't post anthing today because i am so darn tired. it's been a long day. I had a two hour guitar gig at the jefferson County Historical Society in Watertown NY. I was the first performer in the Friday Boxed Lunch series. A performer plays outdoors from 11:00 to 1:00 on Friday's through the Summer. It went well, for the most part, however, I chickened out on playing some new pieces of music and got myself stressed out more than I should have. You see, normally I like to play in the background to set the ambiance of a situation. What happened today was everyone sat and REALLY listened. That focused attention does something to me. I don't want it too. It's not really stage fright, but I guess there is no better name for it. I wasn't frightened. But the scrutiny from the audience isn't what I am accustomed to. Anyhow, some pieces I played particularly well, others fell apart here and there. One piece that i have played for years I just abandoned a few bars into it, laughed it off. What else can you do? I think one of the problems was that I had to be in Syracuse by 3:00pm for the Post-Standard. I would have been more relaxed If that obligation were not hanging over my head. Anyhow, I shot a couple of jobs for the Post, including some video that turned out disastrous. Overall it was a good day with a contrast of ups & downs, mentally challenging. But you know what? It's better than being bored. Today is a reminder that I really need to put myself in more of those situations where people are truly listening and scrutinizing my guitar playing. It's what I need to do so I can overcome that lack of confidence, or whatever it is. For now this day has left me tired. It will be 1:00am before I finally get to bed. That's it for now. Enjoy your beer.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day Ninetynine: Barn Photo

Photo taken about 3 hours ago. Hope you like it. More later.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day Ninetyeight: Captain's Landing

The days have been chilly here in northern NY, chillier than normal for June. It was 54 degrees at 7:00am. And very overcast. Lot of rain these last few days.

I snapped this photo at Capt.'s Landing "Floating Restaurant" located in the St. Lawrence River, Alexandria Bay, NY. I took it surreptitiously. I was there having a beer with my celebrity brother and liked the harsh light and the man's pose in the lower right corner of the photo. However, I didn't want to be obvious in taking the photo. So, I placed the camera on the table I was seated at and released the shutter without looking through the viewfinder. I moved the camera incrementally and took a few more shots. Among them was this photo which pretty much is what I wanted.

"An army may march great distances without distress, if it marches through country where the enemy is not." Sun Tzu, The Art Of War

Day Ninetyseven: Wedding Photo

It was only around 55 degrees in Chaumont this morning at 7:45 when I got up. Yes, almost 8:00am. I hate that. I like to get up and at 'em early. However, things have changed with my schedule at the Post-Standard. I now am working the night shift on Mondays. That means I get home and to bed late. I dislike it. But what is one to do? Certainly isn't something to quit over! There are some other changes too, but I won't go into them now. That is also why I never got to a blog post yesterday.

The photo presented here today is from a wedding I photographed this past Saturday. I was posing the couple for a typical portrait, shooting away, when something transpired between them causing them to fall out of the pose. I was quick enough to grab this moment between moments. It was a spontaneous, unposed moment that one cannot create. When I photograph weddings, or anything for that matter, I am always on the alert for those unexpected moments.

Looking for a wedding photographer in the 13601 zip code area? Call me for your wedding photography anywhere in central and northern NY.

See more of my wedding photos by clicking on my FaceBook wedding album.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day Ninetyfive: Cole Slaw

A lot of photographers I know are really good cooks. I think it's because we are out ramming around so much, grabbing quick food and snacks to eat on the run, that we like to take time out for good food. I, for one, am always on the lookout for something different. I'll try anything once. I have tried more new recipes that I didn't like than those I have liked. This cole slaw was one of the winners. It's different because it has an oil & vinegar dressing.
Here is how I make it:
Chop up some cabbage and red onion. I might chop a whole small cabbage, or half of a large one and slice up a medium sized red onion. Always I add 2 chopped garlic cloves, sometimes 3. Sometimes I chop the cabbage coarse with a knife, as in the photo, other times I shred it fine with a mandolin style vegatable slicer. In general I prefer the coarse version. I slice up a red onion, and mince two or three garlic cloves. Put all the vegatables into a large bowl. Then I add one or two tablespoons of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and four tablespoons of vinegar. Next I mix it all together with a fork. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve. Now, as with many recipes, you can adjust the quantities of the various ingredients to suit your taste. Sometimes I don't use any oil at all. Sometimes I use more vinegar, sometimes less sugar. There are no hard and fast rules. You might want to add some carrots to it also, which I do sometimes. No matter how it's done, it's great. One of my favorites. Hope you try it and enjoy it too.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day Ninetyfour: Farm Family

The day began at 64degrees in Chaumont, NY. It rained quite a bit during the night. It is overcast and gray at the moment. I am off to photograph a wedding this afternoon at sackets Harbor, NY. I look forward to it and hope to make some good promotional photos as well as great shots for the bride. I don't know the reason why, but this particular wedding season has been slow for me. Not as many jobs on the books. I know there is increased competition out there. I am seeing photographers shooting weddings for a hundred dollars. That's $100.00 I don't know what to make of that. I do know one thing, I have many times taken photos at weddings where I am a guest and the bride & groom like my "snap shots" better than the one's they paid their photographer for. Enough of that.
Todays Photo

The subject in this photo is Arthur LaBrie. Art passed away a couple of months ago. He was one of the members of a farm family whose lives I was documenting some years ago. I plan to share more of these photos as time goes by. Arthur was an interesting guy. Supposedly he was a hypnotist. He had a diploma on his wall from a hypnotism school somewhere. I don't think I ever photographed that diploma. He smoked and drank heavily. He called Jack Daniels his medicine. He worked and hoarded his money, which in the big scheme of things wasn't a lot. However, a few years ago when the family farm house burned, uninsured, Art had enough cash in the bank to rebuild the home. Long accused of being a penny pinching miser from others in his family, he was the only one with the resources to save the day.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Day Ninetythree: Dog Tired

Well, it was a terrific day as far as the weather goes. I spent the day working for the Post Standard newspaper in Syracuse, NY. Mostly I was covering Taste of Syracuse. Area restaurants set up booths downtown and serve & sell their food. There are thre stages set up with live music. It's a really great event. However, I worked it from 9:30am to 5:30PM and it tired me out. I know I have some photos I could share here with you, but, forgibve me. I'll post some in the morning. In the mean time, I present this photo, yet another patch of city sidewalk that caught my eye.

Photographing a wedding tomorrow in Sackets Harbor. Also, booked a three hour guitar gig in Potsdam for Father's Day. More on that later.
Good night, Gary.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day Ninetytwo: How About A Higthball?

The day began rainy in Chaumont, Sun came out now and then throughout the day. Overall it was cloudy. I repaired a section of my sidewalk.
I decided to take a break and drink som Coke on ice. I rarely drink soda, maybe 3 times a year. Alaways over ice. To make it interesting I added a shot of seagram's Seven whiskey. I sat at my outdoor table with it and saw that it needed to be photographed. See it, photograph it. Do something with it. I sent it off to the Image Works.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day Ninetyone: Rain

It was 68 degrees this morning when I got up and rain. Quite a lot of rain. Thankfully I planted my green beans yesterday. I planted Kentucky Wonder pole beans. They are prolific and terrific. Fresh green beans are my favorite home grown vegatable.

The photo is the tail light of a car reflected on wet street.

"Music is love in search of a word.” Sidonie Gabrielle Collette