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Blog posts below arranged most recent at top
Leaving the place better than we found it
Seeing with my eyes closed
Thomas Jefferson on gun control
How to lie convincingly
Our hardy heartland
Breaking the cycle
How to catch the sun's comings and goings
Thoughts from the inside
Leveraging the internet to build our walls
Twitters from the past
And the invincibility of youth
Without ego projection
Yet another gift of the road
The charming side of obstinance
The creative part of photography
A movie critic looks in the mirror
We are not alone
As part of the system
Defecting from the rear guard
The end of Kumbaya
The wanderer's poet
Running out of dirt
Striking a balance
The Bay of Fundy, where the sea breathes
How to photograph them with anything, even your cellphone
You are on this page
We may be failing to fail
And why no one should hesitate to examine them
Becoming a hero in one's own life story
A writing assignment
A new discovery of something old
Finding new eyes to see old landscapes
Hick humor
Toys for photographing wild places
Experiencing life with God
A radical thought about our radicals
Redemption with style
Hidden heroes among us
Resetting our parallel processor
A village with heart
A lesson from the road
The bullet dodged
A soul sparkles
Isolation in style
Painless ways to lose your virginity : 11/12/15
Blog posts above arranged oldest at bottom
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Who are you?
A simple question we get every day

On the road, the most common ice-breaker is, "Where you from?" The second question is usually, "What do you do?", which is the friendly way to ask, "Who are you?"

I sometimes answer with a rattle about Bizware, or if I'm knackered I'll just say, "I'm a geek." Also good for a snicker.

Noticing the camera and tripod slung over my shoulder in my best Ansel Adams imitation, a fellow in Massachusetts persisted, "I thought you might be a photographer?"

My answer could have been, "Well I do like to take pictures" or "I do dabble in photography" or the glib "I do hang with shutterbugs". Anything to avoid the straight answer, "I am a photographer."

Partly, I didn't want to mislead since photography is not my day job. I have no plans to change that. It's too hard to eek out a living with pictures, and I didn't want my composition plans to begin with, "Will that sell?"

A wedding photographer put the nail in the coffin, "Sometimes going to work is like being invited to a traffic accident." Frantic mother-in-laws scurrying about having a cow if the napkins are not folded just right. And the stress to produce perfection without direction. The inability to say, "The shot makes you look fat because you wolfed down three slices of wedding cake,"

The main reason for my hesitation, however, was a reluctance to be pretentious since I'm still just an apprentice to the craft. To say "I am a photographer" would be to declare that I have arrived.

This impasse was breached by a flashback many decades back to my Latin class, which I suspected of never bringing anything useful to the party. Turns out the Roman Legions marched with a fellow in front carrying their "signum". This signum was a military emblem of disks or medallions mounted on a pole. To lose a signum in battle was the height of disgrace. So it was that when a battle grew particularly hard, when fear and thoughts of retreat mounted, the commander would order the signum flung over the heads of the barbarians. The legionnaires would redouble their efforts and fight their way over to their signum, routing the barbarians in the process.

Key was the visualization of victory. They declared victory, saw themselves regaining their signum, and marching on in triumph. They became who they said they were.

So it was that the next time I was asked, I calmly answered, "I'm a photographer", throwing my signum way out there, and then did my best to live up to it.

Sometimes we need to take a stand about who we want to be by saying who we are, and then fulfilling our prophesy.

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Gypsy moths were everywhere

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Woods Hole decorations

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Hey, I'm just a duck

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Rubber band collectors' parking area

For more pictures of Massachusetts, click here.

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