The Bench

Graduation season is upon us with all of the excitement and anticipation that graduation brings. For me, it brings an element of melancholy. I love things that are consistent, the same, and yet with the excitement of the future, I grab hold of the past. This week many will end their high school and college careers and begin their futures — the taste of the bitter along with the sweet. Ten years ago this week Evan and his friends walked across the stage at Vacaville Christian Schools setting their sights on the future and what it holds.

A few weeks ago I came across Evan's senior photos. It was always my intention that my kids be able to express themselves within reason, and senior photos were no different. Even now, as a photographer, I so want people that I photograph to be there authentic self. Evan chose a friend, Looking Glass Photographs, to do his senior photo, and I love that she captured him so well.

While looking through the photo, I wanted to find the place where his photos were taken. As I looked through the pictures and as I drove around Vacaville looking for the place that had "The Bench" I realized that I'd lived in Vacaville 30 year and never really saw a bench like the one in the photos. The place that I was looking for had hills, trees, grassy areas, and a baseball diamond, the universal look of nearly every park in the US. But it had some unique things that I knew if I tried hard enough, I could find them.

Last week on my way home from Sacramento I drove through Davis which would have been a place that Evan would have wanted to do photos. He loved Davis, and so much of our time was spent there as a family. I stopped near the park that seemed the most likely, Slide Hill Park. After getting out and looking around, it became clear to me that was not the location. I continued to drive home and passed Community Park and thought maybe but I was hungry and cold, and I need to look again at the photos.

So today after work I picked up my camera and some items that mean something to me; art pieces, photographs, Evan's ashes, and his original draft of "Ley LInes" his first published poem and set out to find "The Bench." After doing some research, I realized that Community Park was probably my best choice, and as I carried my bags towards the skate park in the distance, I saw it...The Bench. Many things about the park have changed, but the overall layout has remained the same. The tree that was in the background of the photo of Evan on the bench has grown, and as I sat and looked around, I felt this genuine connection to this space that once was occupied by my son. It was surreal. I could see him hang on the fence, laying back in the grass, and thinking deeply about life. I set up my makeshift memorial, and I too pondered many things while sitting there.

So much of my grief journey has been about looking back to go forward. It seems to those watching that something is broken if the past is what you cling too. Well, I am broken, but in my brokenness, I see life through a different lens. Not a better lens just different. Ten years ago, Evan graduated from high school. If he had lived, he would have graduated from college Spring of 2017 and who knows what other things he would have accomplished. I say that because he does not have a future here on Earth. Evan’s future is now walking around in the lives of 5 other people who 931 days ago got the heart, lungs, and kidneys of our boy. Our other son, Alex, is raising awareness about organ donations through hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I say this with all confidence that we (John and I) couldn't be prouder of our sons. Proud of their sacrifice and proud of their decisions.

https://www.gofundme.com/PCT-NDLM

Tower Bridge Dinner 2017 with Savory Cafe

The last two weeks have been filled with event photography. As a person who has done events for most of my career it seems second nature to now be doing event photography. I've also really enjoyed the fact that both of the events I've done have been centered on community and food. I've always held the belief that food has a way of bringing people together. It really doesn't matter if it's for the sake of celebrating a new home, the birth of a child, the loss of a loved one or to celebrate harvest and the bounty that it brings food brings us together. This weekend celebrated the harvest that is at the heart of our region and I'm grateful to have been able to capture it for my friends at Savory Cafe. 

My connection to Savory Cafe and to the owners, Chefs Juan (the Food Whisperer) and Toby Barajas and Kristin Hansen, came through a connection with Slow Food Yolo. A dear friend, Joyce Hardi, introduced me to Slow Food Yolo several years ago when I did the event photography for the Village Feast in Central Park in downtown Davis. The Village Feast was a fundraiser for Slow Food Yolo along with a coming together of community, the Davis Farmers Market and Davis Farm to School. This set me on the course to do more of these type of events, where Good, Clean and Fair food was encouraged and celebrated. That was nearly 3 years ago and today that philosophy is still strong as Savory Cafe was given one of the Snail of Approval award for 2017 recently at the Taste of Yolo event in Davis.  

With all of that said I was invited to follow Juan and Kristin as they prepared one of the many appetizers that was offered by various restaurants at the Tower Bridge Dinner. The gala which features local restaurants and foods that are grown in the region is the exclamation point of a weekend of festivities and talent. This event is an important fundraiser for the Farm to Fork program's and what an honor it was to capture it for Chef Juan and Savory Cafe, who ascribe to the Slow Food attributes of being Good, Clean and Fair. I've included the links below to all of the folks that either helped with connections to people or to the food elements that were used to prepare this appetizer.

Juan and Kristin I enjoyed watching you work, connect and celebrate community and team work. What a blessing!! 

http://www.savorycafeonmain.com

http://manasranch.com

https://cvranches.com

https://zspecialtyfood.com

http://www.slowfoodyolo.com/

https://www.farmtofork.com/events/2017-tower-bridge-dinner/

Chasing Sunflowers....

Many times when I am out photographing I don't always realize what I have truly captured until I see it through the process of culling and editing. It is during this process that photographs really speak to my soul. Nearly every time I’m editing I am moved to tears as I see what the Creator has allowed me to capture. Creation has always, for me, spoken of the existence of Christ. Even before I came to know Him the sound of the wind blowing, the blue of the sky, the beauty in a flowers, the moon and the stars...all of it moved me. 

Tonight I ended my evening in Davis and stopped just before sunset at the sunflower field off of Pedrick Road. Oh so many sunflowers all blowing in the wind. Some with large faces, some with medium faces, some with dried up faces, some tall, some small, some short and some just beginning to get ready to open. What I was struck by was how all of them....in each stage of  growth was encouraging the other to grow, to dance, to sprout. I know it seems funny but that is what I saw...it is this beautiful dance of encouragement......to shine their faces on all of the different stages and say..."Come on...you can do it" "You are so beautiful...just keep growing!". Oh how lovely are the faces of those sunflowers. The comfort even of knowing that even the ones that are dying are going to be used for a greater purpose. It was really lovely. 

It made think of each of us....what stage of growth are we in? Can you call out with your beautiful face and be like these sunflowers? Come on...you can do it!!