If you find the time to read my weekly scribbling, you know that I have a love affair with Gonzales. I really love this town and all the inhabitants. The other day I was musing over my coffee when I got to thinking about why I feel this way. I mean, we don’t have a rodeo or car races or a movie theater, although I have seen photos where there used to be one, along with car dealers and a bowling alley. Shoot! This town used to be a mini metropolitan city with all sorts of things to do.
Of course, it still rocks pretty well. With our fabrication and trucking companies as well as a cordon bleu restaurant and other small businesses, we make up a pretty decent tax base. Anyway, those are the thoughts that were bouncing around my cranium as I started to take a trip to the metropolitan shopping area to the north.
As I drove over the overpass on Highway 101, I happened to look to the west and was almost overwhelmed by the sight of the Santa Lucia Mountains. The rains we have been suffering from have cleared the air and it was as clear as glass. The color of the eastern slope of those mountains was simply beautiful. The grays, greens and blues were outlined by the sun as it climbed up to complete the trip from East to West. The air was clean and fresh and all the colors were saturated with God’s pallet.
I actually had to pull over to the side of the road for a few minutes. It’s not often that we get this special light and clear sky, which are surely a gift from heaven. So I just sat there and gave thanks to my Maker for giving me this gift. That was a special time of the day and it reminded me of why I got into the photography business and why I wanted to give something to the people that live here.
There was a time when I just carried my camera around everywhere I went, and when I saw something special or someone that I had not taken a photo of, I would document the occasion. I would have the picture printed, and if I saw the person I would give them a copy of the picture. Of course, I haven’t taken a photo of everyone that lives here, but I’m sure that I am not through yet. I was cleaning out my office the other day and found a couple of boxes that were a mystery to me. When I opened the boxes I found photos of many of the merchants that eke out a living here helping us have a better life.
When I first got into the produce business, I was what they call a Bird Dog. I would go to the field to inspect the yields so I could tell the brokers back in the office who had the best looking produce that day so they could buy and sell with confidence. I was reminded of the fields I worked in as a boy. Not as an inspector but as a harvester I wanted to give something back to the workers who head to the fields before I awoke.
I saw something that I had not seen since I was a young boy. Workers coming into the fields as the sun smiled down on our valley, and I remembered working in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley thinking that someone needs to give the workers a sense of belonging and a reminder of the fields they picked clean. There wasn’t much I could do about it at the time as cameras were what my folks called “EXTRAS.” And film was very expensive, but I did get a few pictures and I can still see the smiles on the faces of the folks when I handed them a picture of themselves picking cotton or picking up potatoes.
I wanted them to have something to take back to there country showing their families how hard their parents worked to make a better life for them. That’s why I took photos of the workers. It took a while before the workers gave me their trust, and once they did I made them smile.
I also took a lot of pictures of weddings or quinceaneras, but they were a little different because I charged for those photos. In fact, as a farmworker there wasn’t always enough money to do everything that the family wanted. Many times I was asked if they could get a better price. Often they would flinch when I quoted the price for my time and the photos.
I always asked them to watch what I do and tell me if the price was right. If I felt that my job was perhaps a little too expensive I would send the photos to a book maker and present the book to the person paying the bills. This never failed to bring out a smile. There is just something about being given a book with photos of the family within. I just hope that every family I photographed was happy with the results.
Part of my cost was the cameras I had to buy and the developing and printing of the film. Then Apple brought out the world’s best selling camera. That’s correct! The best selling camera in the world is an Apple iPhone. They are made today with all sorts of bells and whistles. It will always take a very good photographer to take photos of those “special moments.”
I thought it might be interesting to know that as I write this today, I am sitting at my wife’s desk. I am surrounded by photographs that we have framed and hung in a conspicuous location. It always puts a special feeling in my heart. Please take a lot of pictures. They will always make you happy.