Friends, Photography and Tears: A Photography Story about Making a Special Memory

March 31, 2014  •  1 Comment
I originally wrote the following in December of 2011 but have updated it with additional information.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Feel free to comment and share.
Sometimes people are introduced into our lives that we would never expect to meet and for reasons that we will never understand.  Usually it is because they have a common interest or some other relationship with other friends that causes it to happen.  It is always interesting when it occurs but in my case, it was an Internet forum for photographers that has allowed me to meet people from all across the country, some of which have become life-long friends that I see once or twice a year. 
In 2007, I got the crazy idea to meet a group of photographers at Bricktown in Oklahoma City for a weekend of photography and fun. I have been to photography conventions before but never anything quite like this, especially when I didn't know anyone other than through an online forum.  It was a blast and and there are a lot of stories I could tell, such as: 
  • Meeting Pat and Grant Harris for the first time in the hotel lobby and knowing immediately who they were and likewise, even though we had never even spoken in person.  We have gotten together at least once a year since 2007 and in a couple of cases, more often when planning meet-ups or just passing through the area.  I've had the privilege of staying at their home in Skiatook, OK and being the recipient of their hospitality.
  • Having the experience of meeting Cort Anderson and spending an entire day exploring old alignments of Route 66 west of Oklahoma and eating buffalo burgers at one of the stops along the way. Sites such as Lucille's at Hydro, OK and the 39 Pony Bridge near the ghost town of Bridgeport, Oklahoma.  Since that time, we have gotten together at least once a year to explore another section of old 66 or some other place, such as the Flint Hills in eastern Kansas.  I found out that a Subaru will really float, at least for a few seconds. About once a week we talk on the phone about various things, and more recently he has come to Mississippi to explore the vast expanse of Mississippi Delta.
  • Then there was Bing.   Bing is from Memphis and she met all of us for the first time in the hotel lobby, called me by name and came over and gave me one of those big Southern hugs.  It was like I had known her all my life and since that time, she has ridden with several of us during one of the many Route 66 trips and participated in several of the meet-ups from across the country.  She has even  hosted a meetup in Memphis each year for a smaller group of us as you will read about later on in this blog post.
Bing is young enough to be my daughter, actually she is younger than my oldest son (now I feel really old) but I sometimes get the feeling that she was born a couple of decades too late.  That isn't a bad thing but many times she reminds me of the 60s rather than the 80s.
After meeting everyone in 2007, a group from the South begin meeting in Memphis each October or November to get together for photography and good times.  Since that time, the group has grown to include others from Ohio, Delaware, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina and probably a couple of other states that I can't remember at the moment.
So, in 2011, when the planning was going on for the November meet in Memphis, I met Bing one day for lunch while I was working in Memphis.  She brought baby Ro with her and we had lunch at the Little Tea Shop on Monroe Street.  We discussed the meet and then she told me that she was looking for a specific portrait of her and Ro to give to her husband for Christmas.  I told her we could do the photograph at the Memphis meet when we got together.  They were in the process of purchasing a new home and she said if the house was close to enough to ready, we could do it there.
As planned, we all gathered at Bing's new house to photograph some models and just generally have a good time.  Since there were about 20-25 of us there, it was a blast. 
While the others were doing their thing, we chose one of the rooms that no one was using to create the photograph that Bing wanted.  Debi Allen, Rosemary Hayes and Dave Wolanski assisted in the shoot and I got several good images. After looking through the images, there was one in particular that just really stood out. I sent it to Bing and she called me saying she was wiping tears from her eyes.  
• • • 
Ansel Adams once said, "A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is thereby a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety."  While I think he was talking mainly about photographing the landscape for which he was so well known, I believe that statement holds true for portrait photography too.
It certainly holds true for what was created that day of Bing and Ro.
Bing and Ro


I feel lucky to call you friend. What a cool thing we've been blessed with.
I remember you shooting this photo. I knew when you took it that it would be epic.
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