Friday, December 12, 2014

Unexpected Opportunities with Long-term Gains

Six rounds down and four to go in the National Finals Rodeo. This might not seem related to writing and books, but...Rodeo has been very good to me. Back in the 1990 when I lived in Tennessee, I freelanced in action photography and writing (huh, I still do). I shot saddle club shows, 4-H shows, hunter-jumper and dressage competitions. I had horses, one I was training for endurance riding. Another was a good "ranch horse," and since he seemed pretty smart, I sent him off for extra training. The trainer worked my gelding to be a header (rodeo term) and suggested I take pictures at his ranch for a charity team-roping competition. Five-time NFR All Around Cowboy Larry Mahan would be there.  
"Oh yeah!"   

Not only did I have fun meeting and chatting with Mahan, but I realized these competitors were anxious for pictures of their sport. I also realized I enjoyed the quick shooting, of fast moving team roping much more than the horse-club shows and hunter-jumper gigs I'd been doing. 

Next thing you know, I was a card carrying in-the-arena rodeo photographer. My photos and many articles were published in the rodeo magazine (International Professional Rodeo, not PRCA) and they called on me to cover the regional finals and write a few spotlight pieces. That was my weekend work. At this same time, I was an assistant editor for a national sports publication where I learned to "write on the fly" and work with Quark layouts.  

These two involvements sparked a great deal of what I do today, and it started when one of the area rodeo companies asked if I would help them produce a program for their next season. Hey, why not. I wasn't sure all that would entail, but I agreed. I didn't actually aid them, though. I did the whole dang thing! Ninety percent of the photos were mine, I shot products for advertisements, I wrote 98% of the text; I designed the cover and layout, and oversaw all the production. 

"Do a brochure, too," they requested. "A tri-fold." So I did. This in the days of four-color separation and graphics programs that contained only a smidgen of today's capabilities. The work was a real challenge, and I realized this new experience was something I enjoyed.

  The year of the rodeo publication, I relocated to Montana and although I continued to shoot action photography, rodeo wasn't a big part of it. But I bought my first dot com and published a website that's still around. It included a rodeo sub domain (that I've since abandoned). At the turn of this century, there weren't many rodeo sites, and my photos gained popularity on the Web. I enhanced the rodeo terms I'd written for the Lone Star program and put them online. 

Not did I sell photos from this site to a few international magazines, but the Idaho High School Rodeo Association bought one-time rights to my "terms" page to include in their Rodeo Queen pamphlet. I also used my rodeo knowledge to give color to sections of my contemporary novel Blood and Bond. It's not a rodeo story, but several scenes take place in that setting. All of this spurs me to make note of the NFR (and the IPRA finals in January). I like rodeo, and the unexpected opportunities that got me involved have blossomed into a many positive enterprises.

A note to writers just starting out: Don’t turn down any chance to try something different. You never know where it will lead, and if nothing more, the experience can possibly be used to enhance your writing projects.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Magazine Photo of the Animal's Bridge

The November/December issue of Orion Magazine is now available. My image of the Animal's Bridge in Western Montana headlines the "Right of Way" article (pg 61). I'm very pleased! 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Montana Artist

Early yesterday evening (Thursday) I attended a talk and reception at the Turman Larison contemporary gallery in Helena. Chris Autio (photographer) and Josh DeWeese (ceramics) were there to kick off their month-long exhibits. Both are carrying on the artistic traditions of their Montana artist families.
Along with many questions from the attendees about their art production, one woman asked how being part of such richly talented families affected them when they were growing up. They both looked rather flummoxed by the question: either they'd never thought about it, or they were constructing an appropriate answer. I'm quiet certain it was the former. They both responded that being in the artistic environment had just seemed "right." This was the same response when asked why they pursued their career in Montana and didn't move somewhere else.  

Montana roots run deep. I wish mine had been here for a century or more. Whatever, my creativity has come alive since arriving in Montana.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Brain Health, Good Food

Several articles and education shows suggest that brain health can be helped by regular “exercise” and specialized thought. It’s believed that simple things, such as brushing your teeth while wielding the toothbrush in your opposite hand from normal, are helpful. And so is trying new foods. I didn’t have any of this in mind when I created a new culinary experience for myself last night. The dinner was prompted by Linda Leaming’s A Field Guide to Happiness: What I Learned in Bhutan about Living, Loving, and Waking Up. In several chapters Linda mentions the foods she eats in Bhutan, and red rice is a staple in her household. I’d never considered that rice could be anything but brown or white.

Then, Lo, I’m shopping, and there in the bulk grain selection of my favorite health food store is “Bhutan red rice.” I decided to try it.
After contacting Linda (she’s a long-time friend) and asking for cooking tips, I prepared this dish for dinner. I prepared the rice according to Linda’s directions, and topped it with spinach, garlic, sliced mushrooms (organic, of course) and chopped onions—all briefly steamed and drizzled with olive oil. I capped that with a fresh tomato from a neighbor’s garden (she gave it to me, I didn’t pilfer it).
Yum. It probably wasn’t Bhutan style, but it was quite good. The rice was a bit nutty, sort of sweet; I liked the texture. The flavors of my quickly-fixed topping blended nicely with the red rice.

I cooked more rice than I needed for dinner, but I think it will be good chilled and mixed with yogurt and fruit.

It’s nice to have a healthier brain.