I can remember when the American Bald Eagle was on the endangered species list and seeing just one was news worthy of national headlines. I had never seen one live-in captivity or in the wild-until last year when I discovered there was a small population right in my backyard. That’s when I became obsessed. I scoured the internet for information about their habits, migration patterns, and searched for their local hangouts. I’m a warm weather, summer loving kind of girl, but despite the onset of fall and winter I was determined. Layers of fleece, a mug of coffee and camera in hand, I headed out to the lake every chance I could on my quest to spot one. No doubt if you live in Alaska, Washington or Western Canada, you’re probably wondering what the big deal is, but here on the Eastern seaboard in central NC there aren’t a lot of Eagles. I dragged my photographer friends out at dawn and hiked what felt like every inch of the 180 mile shoreline for what I later learned were only 5 nesting pair. I’ve since seen many, but never really close enough for “the shot”. In early February I discovered a webcam of a pair at the lake and watched as the eggs were incubated, hatched and cared for by the adult birds. I had no idea how addicting that would become! Once the NC birds began to fledge the nest I discovered another cam at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in VA. On April 26th the female Eagle was struck and killed by a plane, the 3 eaglets were removed from the nest the next day and taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia to be raised and then released. Fast forward to July 27th. I decided I’d drive the 3 hours to Charles City, Virginia to attend the release at Berkeley Plantation on the James River. They were not only releasing the triplets, but two additional juvenile birds that had been injured and rehabbed at the center. They released 5 Juvenile Bald Eagles with a crowd of about 1200 in attendance. It was a pretty amazing experience watching the birds as they took their first flights into the wild. They said we would see the moment in flight when the bird realized it was free-it was true-all of a sudden after it gets air-born the bird relaxes, the flight becomes smooth, and sure, the Eagle soars effortlessly into the great wide open. If you’ve never seen it, you need to!
I met a photographer the other day, who, after looking at my website suggested I need to find my direction. I’m not really certain I know what that means. I’ve pretty much lived my whole life flying by the seat of my pants, the only direction being moving from day to day because the sun rises and sets. Most days, in the grand scheme, I have no idea what’s in store. Sure, I have my plan, my “to-do” list, but usually, aside from meetings, obligations and deadlines, the list usually changes. I kind of like it that way. The same is true in my photography. Experience has taught me that as soon as I try pigeon-holing my craft instead of allowing it to grow organically my creativity suffers. I can’t definitively say I prefer photographing one thing over another. Am I good or successful at shooting everything? No, but if I don’t try I won’t be challenged and grow as an artist. One characteristic that defines me is that I have a lot of diverse interests and most are reflected in my work. I do think, varied as it is, my photography has a unique thumbprint. I want to photograph what moves me, challenges me, and excites me. Some days that’s an idyllic meditative moment in nature and other times it’s an in-your-face rock concert. I think maybe I’ve found my direction and motto perfectly stated by the immortal (& one of my many heroes) Bruce Lee-“Using no way as way” and “Having no limitation as limitation“.
An Honor Guard soldier at the Tomb of The Unknowns.
There’s more to the 4th of July than fireworks, barbeque, fun and celebrations. I recently visited Arlington National Cemetery. Regardless of your political views or religious beliefs, being there, standing in the midst of the 624 acres of buried soldiers who lost their lives fighting for our freedom is a sobering experience. Even if history isn’t your thing it’s easy to appreciate the memorials from as long ago as the Revolutionary and Civil Wars to the Challenger shuttle and 9/11 Pan Am flight. Burial places of Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, astronauts, and military and political leaders, among many others, is a lesson in how our country has evolved. So while we’re all enjoying cook-outs, fireworks, and festivities, take a minute to appreciate how and why we have the freedom we do.