Posts Tagged ‘renewal’

Relevance

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

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Sean Tully dropped me a note the other day, which had me scrambling to find an image file we created awhile back. I could not locate the high res finals, only some low res jpegs. So I referred to the original shot file where the camera raws reside, and had a little look.

What I found was a slew of work we had not really put out into editorial at that time. I think maybe two or three from this series had become magazine covers, but the rest, had just not been relevant as far as I could tell. But today I sort of went “wow” as I found them and set to work processing the images on two new programs that did not exist when these images were collected.

In a world where we tend to chase our tales sometimes in the mindset that new equals relevant, I was pleasantly surprised that these images far surpassed every single image of a brand name surf publication which arrived at my door today in their genre.

Made me think about my own choices a bit. In short order the work will get turned over to Corbis and general editorial and used in a couple feature projects I have on the back burner. But it really gave me pause regarding my own assent to the value of my work.

Here is a rather classic piece of music. It is relevant to me in that it still means something. What does this say? I guess one would need to want it to know. Relevance. Bendictus by 2 Cellos

Anyway, below are some of those images. Click on any of them for a full, uncompressed view.

 

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Collateral Damage

Friday, November 20th, 2009
Jacqueline

Jacqueline

 

 

I was 23 years old and saying a tearful goodbye to my wife of one month in LAX departures. As I slunk back in my seat moments later, and heard the soft thunk of the cabin door closing, I noticed Shaun Tomson sitting a few seats away. Dane Kealoha was nearby, and behind him I saw Mark Richards. We were all headed for Hawaii and what would be my first travel leg of the then IPS world tour. 

 

The next ten years or so of my life consisted of moments like that: traveling alone, or with some of my pro surfer pals from California. The goodbyes were frequently followed by amazingly wonderful hellos a month or so later. The stress on our marriage, though real, was manageable. We both had known what we were getting into. 

 

There is something magnificent about the bond between a man and woman committed to each other. It just feels sacred. My wife had never complained about my other mistress. The sea would always give me back. She knew that it would never do anything but wash me home. It was not an enemy, but part of our bond. We both got that about each other. We were able to share it. 

 

I bailed on my busy work schedule last week. The details of life sometime necessitate we take care of things like house, taxes, cars. I was resigned to a drive down coast to Encinitas to drop off a commercial job for a client, and trade in my 07 car, which had reached that crossroad of diminishing value that occurs at around 60 k miles. 

 

A very patient car saleswoman named Barb Shev, had borne with me as I decided to trade my car in on a 2010 version. I had dropped her a simple note hello. A query and in two e mails later and Barb had ferreted out a deal that gave me a good trade in amount on my car and a great price and financing on the newer model. But getting away had been almost impossible. I finally picked a day and resolved to  just drop everything else and go. I had bought a car before from that dealership, and it had been a straight shot, no BS in and out thing. I needed that. 

 

On the way out the door my girlfriend Donna (Hey, the marriage DID last 20 years. That is another story) asked if I was bringing a camera. I was not intending to. Like a bad school child, I stomped back into my camera room and grabbed a little Canon Rebel T1i and a 10-17 fisheye zoom lens. Why that lens? Because it was already ON the body. I was not into making more post production for myself. I already had six stills shoots and three motion projects awaiting my attention. No shooting was planned for me that day. But Donna knows me well, and she smiled as she saw me stomping out the door and kissed me goodbye. I was grumpy. I like my car. I hate LA freeways. Harumph. My shiny black Mazdaspeed 3 came to life with a smooth rumble at the touch of a key. It had been a seamless performer for 3 years. I had disassembled and reassembled it almost as a child would a model car. I like cars. I like speed. I know both quite well. 

 

Listening to AM 1070 for the traffic news, I found myself whizzing up on OC via I 5, and dialed my friend Shawn Alladio, who I knew lived there somewhere . She picked up. Turns out that the next exit was hers. In a few minutes I had found my way to her house and she met me at the curb, wearing camo pants, a Liquid Militia tee shirt, and a soft smile. 

 

We do not get to catch up in person much. She owns and operates a global water safety company called K38 Rescue. One of the smartest, toughest, most fair people that I know. I am lucky enough to have had her tutor me in Ocean Rescue, PWC operation, risk assessment, and be my friend. She had been through a lot lately, and I was really glad to wrap my arms around her. I care about my friends. This one had been to hell and back several times recently in her work. A slew of awards for heroism had been the by product. But there had also been collateral damage no one saw but family and close friends. 

Shawn’s blog is here. Read it if you want insight into a very remarkable woman and her world. 

 

Coffee at Peets in a trippy nearby mall (I had been up since 3am working and needed a cup) had Shawn asking if I wanted company. 

 

So down the 5 we went, sipping our coffee and catching up. As we passed Pendleton, a powder blue Pacific glistened beyond the ocre brown of the coastal chapparal. Shawn asked if it would be okay if we stopped on Base after the car thing. She said that there was someone she wanted me to meet. I said sure. 

 

Barb met us at the door of a very quiet Penske Mazda, standing in the midst of other very quiet dealerships. She looked the same as when I had last seen her 5 years ago. She pointed out the shiny new black MS3 sitting next to my shiny older and rather sinister looking MS3. “There is your new car David. Want to go for a test drive?” And then she smiled as I declined. Barb knew I was likely on a mission. She helped. 

 

While Shawn chatted with her, I met with the same finance guy that I had seen 5 years prior and really just had a pleasant time. In a bit, all of us were hanging in the office and talking story as the paperwork got completed. It was comfortable. But my psyche was someplace else. 

 

In a short while, we were saying our goodbyes and I settled in behind the wheel of my new car. But I did not care. And I could not figure out why. Somehow I knew that today was not about getting a car. Shawn was sweetly enthusiastic as it roared to life and we eased towards Hwy 78 and Pendleton. I was quiet. 

 

Though successful, I do not make a lot of money. I spend most of what I earn on my career tools. I should have been amped. I love cars. Here was my old car, refined and brand new. A car enthusiast’s dream. But inside, it was all pensive brooding. Something else was up. I knew the signs. 

 

At Pendleton’s gate I said that we were there to see Mike Arnold, base safety Officer down at the marine Boat Locker. We knew that Mike was having a hard day. It looked like he may have lost someone to an incident earlier. Mike takes the Marines and their lives very seriously, and one lay in a civilian hospital critically injured. A phone call confirmed that he would not be meeting us. 

 

Shawn said that her friend Jacqueline would come down to the boat docks, near the Marine Yard where she occasionally holds training courses in Ocean Rescue and boat ops. “Do you think that you could take a picture of her for her husband? He is away on deployment.” “Yea sure, I brought a camera” I said. I thought about my odd choice in lenses. Oh well, it would be a snapshot. Something for him to hold close while he was away. It would do. 

 

So we nosed into the launch area. Shawn got out and immediately headed for the water, squatting down and holding her hands in it. A sharp breeze carrying the increasing coolness of a Fall ocean, contrasted against the warm yellow light of the late afternoon sun. 

 

“She should be here soon. She is a blond. You are really going to like her.” I heard her say, hands still in water and back to me. She was recharging. The ocean does that for us. Here is a very cool video that explains why. 

 

 Camera in hand, I took a deep breath of cool salt air. It was nice to be here again. In a few minutes I saw a bright red little Chevy rolling up on us, and lots of black hair blowing out the open window. “That’s her” I heard Shawn say. “That gal has brunette hair Shawn. No, blonde, no, blond and black.” As the little red car rolled up next to mine on the pavement, I noticed that it’s tires glistened shiny black, The bright red paint glowed. The windows glistened spotless and three stickers were placed carefully on the side and back windows. This woman kept her car up. You do not see that much from 23 year old women: being into their cars. It was Jacqueline. 

 

As Shawn introduced us, she explained the hair. “Like it? I just did it.” Her long hair was close to black in color with two near white pieces that framed her face. The choice spoke a lot to me about her. “Nice car” I said. She smiled broadly. “Thanks!” I take good care of it. It’s a 2005.” (It looked as new as my fresh one). 

 

I appreciate individualism in people. I saw it standing there in front of me in the form of a confident, relaxed, charming and attractive young woman. The saying “on the threshold of life” dropped in to mind, as I asked if I could take her picture. Still unsure or entirely motivated to do anything but a simple snap shot, I did not really understand what in the heck I really was doing at that exact moment in place and time. But a nagging feeling, which had been tugging on my insides had kept up it’s persistent tapping. What was this all about? 

 

With no clear direction I began to shoot around a little bit. For the past hour my eye had been drawn to a spot of wet sand nestled into the big brown rocks of one of the jetties that framed the launch ramp. I asked Jacqueline to head down to the water. On the way, I had joked about what I do. “Yea I order people to do things and they do them.” As we passed by that spot at the jetty, I said: “Could you please just stand right over there?” 

 

Jacqueline turned, looked me square in the eye and in a revelatory and surprised fashion turned the light on for me about the purpose of my day when she said simply, “There? That is where I said goodbye to my husband.” She appeared shocked that I could know. And as enlightenment came, direction and motivation dawned as well. I knew what to shoot, what needed to be communicated. 

 

Her husband Ryan was deployed on a ship, somewhere in the Middle East. 

He was a sniper. This spot was where something sacred had occurred between the couple. In ten minutes I had shot a series of images that communicated what was involved in that sacrament. Ryan would “get it” when he saw them. Hopefully others would as well. I noticed my eyes trying to tear up as I worked. Emotion indicates something to me. So when a subject evokes it, I know exactly what to do: tell the story. 

 

Deployments are three months long generally. Ryan comes home for a month. Then it repeats. That is three times a year when the soldier’s family gets to go through the process of separation. Now goodbye, that is not just a sweet au revoir. I questioned Jacqueline about it, as she explained what she and the other wives dealt with in their relationships and the comings and goings. The stories were heavy. The implications vast. The potential damage to relationships and people a clear and present sort of danger. She began to cry as the back story arose. 

This Video tells another soldier’s story. 

 

When you are just barely out of childhood and getting your feet under you as an adult, there is a steep learning curve. I had been where she was, having married early as well, and leaving. The glaring difference being that her husband’s job was as a merchant of death. And what he would be dealing with, is an enemy whose job was to snuff him out. That is war. Ultimate conflict, with ultimate expense. 

 

 The energy of that has a ripple effect that can sweep through the harbor of a soldier’s loved ones and wreak an incredible amount of damage. For the family, the constant loss and return and loss, can create what psychiatry calls separation anxiety and other maladies. Their life consists of maintaining a relationship in spurts. 

 

 At 50 I could maybe have a decent chance of surviving it. But at 23, it is an entirely different set of skills that one may not be in possession of, that can wreak havoc. You learn fast. Or not. But in reality it is all about resolve on both peoples part to get through to the other side of this phase in a career choice that it is difficult to see clearly with young eyes. 

 

The net affect of this process creates the bond of the military family. Everyone tries to link arms figuratively. Each supports and holds up the other. It was what Shawn and I were really there for that day. To show Jacqueline that we cared about her, Ryan, and them as a family. We were spiritually linking arms. It is much more difficult for a person to be knocked down when friends, family and country hold them up. 

 

Shawn had told me a story about a fighting group on it’s way into battle in the back of a helo. They had made a pact that should one of them fall, the rest would step up in support of the family of that member of the group. They had sworn on it. A short while later one of the group had been blown to his end. When those men returned home, true to their word, they formed a support group. It is called The United Warrior Survivors Foundation. The link is here. What the UWSF and several other groups do is offer support. They try to limit and contain the collateral damage of war. That collateral damage is the type of energy that can sweep through the cultural fabric of a nation with the effectiveness of a blast. So these warriors seek to soften the blow for the rest of us. Talk about nobility. 

 

Jacqueline loves her husband, that was very obvious. But more than that, she is committed to him, spirit soul and body. She is at war. They all are. She is present and accounted for. And her reality is becoming more stark, as she realizes that the next deployment already beckons. 

 

Collateral damage. The enemy is around us. We are at war. Think about what you support and why. I did, as I eased through the steel pulse of Friday night traffic on the 405 later, with everyone else bound for someplace else, and someone. 

 

I awoke the next morning, opened my carport door and saw my shiny new car sitting there and it finally hit me. I picked up my cel and dialed Shawn. 

“Hey. I have a new car.” It had taken me that long to really notice. But I have a new friend. That part is special. And an obligation. That part is sacred. 

Shawn Recharging

Shawn Recharging

 

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Shawn and Jacqueline: Edge of the World

Shawn and Jacqueline: Edge of the World

 

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 A Sniper's Wife

A Sniper's Wife

 

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Future Perfect

Future Perfect

 

Side by  Side

Side by Side

Is That Real? An Authentic View

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Maldivian Blue

Maldivian Blue

I get asked this question a lot.  When I have finished answering in the affirmative, the second response which has been repeated with enough frequency that I no longer take offense comes: “Is that Photoshopped?”

The line of query says a lot about our over stimulated, content crammed, media saturated world, as it exists today. If one were to slip into the dusty cobweb strewn dark recesses of what passes for my mind, you would hear the little bitch echo of a voice I spend a lifetime trying to stifle, saying in a soft clear tone: “Um, get out much?” (Bad Dave, bad, down boy)

But instead of that, you get this blog. Some of you are laughing right now and some have left the room with a click of the red button on your browser. I understand both tacts. But here is the deal. My frame of reference is  unique and different than that of the person who poses these questions. My job as an artist and communicator is a simple one: I point to the source. Frequently the source is alien to that person.

So in this process I have found myself a cheerleader for real, first hand experiences. Go, breathe, run, swim, surf, ride,  jump, fall, sing, dance, love, taste, smell, feel, listen, struggle, lose, win, live. Turn off the computer, put down the I phone, kill your television, go be that experience today. Then come back and tell us about it in your own voice, not the media’s. Do something. A world could use that joy you find.

I just read a great book called “Ignore Everybody and 39 other Keys to Creativity” It is reviewed here on B&H’s site. It has keys that resonated with me and made me laugh, as I realized that the writer and I do exactly the same things. Thanks to Seth Godin for pointing it’s existence out to me. I needed the reminders in this book. You may also.

A quirky blog that really communicates the value of first hand experience is right here by Seth Godin

Being a virtuoso at anything requires authenticity and pureness of intent, but beyond that, a commitment to engage your passion and then to share the results.  Jake Shimabukuro demonstrates all of that here as he shares something amazing: his authenticity.

Authenticity. Yep, that photo is real, I know what it tastes, feels and sounds like as well as how it appears when I show up at the right moment with a camera. If you experience any incredulity at all, well then, I am doing my job.

Please click on the images in the gallery to read the back stories. The meat of this subject is in there if you would like a taste.

Dan Malloy, Red Dawn

Dan Malloy, Red Dawn

Spinner Fantasy

Spinner Fantasy

Cotton Candy Floor

Cotton Candy Floor

Solitude

Solitude

Ventura Pier

Ventura Pier

Two Trees Dawn

Two Trees Dawn

Definition

Definition

Westside Rainbow Bridge

Westside Rainbow Bridge

Orange Diaper

Orange Diaper

Oop

Oop

Rincon Sunset

Rincon Sunset

Green Dream

Green Dream

Vapor

Vapor

Tiare, Going

Tiare, Going

Consequences

Consequences

The Gallery: Backstories show when clicking on imagery below

Grace

Sunday, May 31st, 2009
Nias, Isle of Gold

Nias, Isle of Gold

In any life, in the reduction of the actions and choices that take a person on their journey, after all the stuff of a person’s existence is burned or rotted away, what remains is something quite remarkable. For lack of a better word you could call that something grace.

It exists everywhere. Yet one cannot hoard it. The more selfish that one is, the less of it will remain. I crave grace, because in it, is an abundance and flow that changes and converts a world (and myself) from being entropic to regenerative. Human beings are like buckets with holes in them. We  only hold things like grace for so long, and it all seeps out of the bottom of our hearts. We need flow to keep our bucket full. Making our requirement, one of perpetual motion.

It is in our architecture, and that is what makes humans: frustrating, terrible, beautiful and wondrous. Each is always in it’s own unique level of grace. Our actions, well, they often are a reflection of the content of our hearts. We need more continually.  But gratitude, giving, it all brings grace. Suddenly we need less. And peace flows.

It is like the universe has an invisible  dimension where an eternal throbbing, pulsing flow of light and sound exist that carry all the energy that is love, nourishment and flow for the bucket. But to get a dose, man needs to first give some from his own bucket, all the while being well aware that it has holes and all that you cherish is fast running out on to the ground.

In a country,which seems on the surface to have fallen from grace, I have seen recently the most amazing proof that A) This is probably far from reality and B) I have been letting my own bucket run too dry.

I had not noticed, till our economic crash caused this great big sucking sound and I looked and saw my bucket was starting to suck air the same manner in which a drain does as the last of the water runs out. Whoa what to do?  Simple. I dipped my bucket when I poured all that I had left, onto the ground.

This blog is me doing that. The Intuit Small Business United Project where I gave more than I would consider doing for myself is another. (That story and video with about 4000 views in ten days is here and you can still watch read and participate with your comments and votes if you like, but it ends tonight)  The grand reward in these past several months came as I witnessed an outpouring and connection with the people of a new tribe via Intuit,  and a fresh flow commenced that began to once again, fill me.

We are all a lot nicer to be around when we have grace. But to see it, you somehow need to give it, without respect of cost or person. It is your ticket for entry into a river which never runs dry. It always has that affect.

In my life one of the best illustrations of grace occurred for me on the Island of Nias, which is off Sumatra in Indonesia. I was on a photo trip and it had taken days of difficult travel to reach the malaria infested place which is home to one of surfing’s wonders of the world.

Lagundri Bay funnels the energy of storms which come screaming off the Antarctic ice cap on to a reef which creates possibly one of the most amazing waves I have ever experienced.

The trip had been arduous in more ways than I will say here. Just flat out hard. I was in a steep learning curve phase in my life and career. The short of it is that I had almost drowned alone doing something I traveled there to do, capture an image. Finding myself at the end of my rope in the dark at the edge of the civilized world had been revelatory.

In the hills high above the bay is the village of Botohilitano. The area had long been populated by an indigenous population of head hunters whose culture embraced the tenets of black and red magic. A long history of people had disappeared in the area and their heads were used in the consecration of the foundations of Botohilitano village.

Visiting the place was something which I did not look forward to. I had studied bible and missionary work under a rather unique man named Lester Sumrall who had spent a lifetime working in the mission fields of the world. Sumrall spent life doing one basic thing: giving. I had learned much from and through him in courses through his college, about man and flow. None of that made me desire in any shape or form to want to actually go up to Botohilitano.  It was a long walk up a steep hill where the village was established, to keep it out of the reach of the tsunamis, which would regularly devastate this land sitting on the edge of the ring of fire. You had to really want to go there

But the day came when one of the guys on the trip, Ryan, borrowed a scooter and said, “Hey lets go.” Big camera bag on back, we putt-putted up the near vert climb as the rusty scooter strained at the load and grade. It was a dismal day for Indonesia. Think grey. As we approached the buttressed gates of the village my dread grew and lay on me like a heavy blanket. I knew what lay in and below the surface of perception. The thought of it sickened me as I knew how those people had died, based on my study of the tribes in that region.

A funny thing happened as we climbed off the scooter and slowly walked up the steps and into the megalithic village site. I remember it clearly as the dawn bursting into the frame of one of my images. As we stood in the central courtyard, that heavy blanket lifted and I could literally feel joy in that quiet ancient place. I was stunned.

We met and played a bit with some of the children and unobtrusively sort of browsed the old place for a couple hours. In leaving the village the entire process sort of reversed. Both Ryan and I remarked on it as we headed back down to Lagundri Bay. You could feel the place leaving you.

The next day I ran across Mark Flint, an Aussie guy who I became  friends with. He had pioneered the recent developments in Lagundri and had been in on the original tribe of surfers who had found the place. I asked Mark about the village. My simple, “Hey what gives with that village on the hill?” brought an amused smile and remark that I will always remember.

He said, “Oh Botohilitano? Why, they are all Christians. Some years back a group of missionaries went up there and were slaughtered. Later, another group of missionaries went up and the entire village  converted, based on how the first group had died. It’s a wonderful place isn’t it?” Nothing had been the same since and the head hunting and human sacrifice had ceased.

What I learned though, in my own process, is that it was not in the dying that everything changed for that little corner of the earth, but it was in that first groups choice of how to live. Do you really believe in what you say? What will you do? Would you die for it? Will you live by it? It is not that difficult a thing to do, to die. It is an act that each one of us must embrace at some point. That is part of physicality.

But the choice in living through grace, that is something amazing. Empty your bucket. Make a choice. Stick with it. Watch what happens. Your world is about to change, and it will be a good thing.

One of my new friends through the Group Tribes, is Ed Brenegar. He has a great blog on gratitude called Say Thanks Every Day here.

Everything you see was created through sound. In my Hawaiian culture, music is one of the threads the tribe always espoused and embraced. I have always thought that this put the ancient Hawaiians in the flow that caused the huge outward migration that colonized the Pacific and beyond, long before Western Man. One person who embraces flow, grace and gratitude in elegant fashion is musician Ben Harper. This video piece illustrates it well. Thanks to Frank Quirarte for pointing it out.

Another piece of music, that takes one on a sweet walk to grace is by my friend, Ventura based writer and performer Zuri Star and is right here. “Walk with me” is an invitation we all need to send.

And U2′s timeless rendition of Grace is here.

Seth Godin has a great little lesson for the Tribe here. Read between the lines and you will understand exactly why I included it.

Below you will see two images. In the gallery you can click on them and see their back story. They are yours.  Each is significant  to me. Below each image is a yousendit link which will eventually expire. You can download the print file and have my permission as the creator of that image to use it for personal use. They are my expression of gratitude for all of you who read this blog, contribute to my own well being and existence, and have borne with me in this Intuit event which many of you have been so generous in contributing video views, votes and comments on. 4000 views? I am blown away by your grace.

This amazing comment/quote was sent to me recently by Bill Babin, who also contributed the fantastic Ford Video which is in Connectedness.

You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.

Alan Watts (1915 – 1973)

Thank you all. The bucket is full.  Imagine that.

Millennium

Millennium

Download the print link here.

Nias. Roads End

Nias. Roads End

Download the print link here.

Grace

Grace

Legacy

Legacy

Dawn Flow

Dawn Flow

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.

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