A few months ago I started posting on Facebook a list of my top 100 road trip songs.  I borrowed this idea from one of my favorite literary characters Lucas Davenport, as authored by John Sandford.  In one of the books, Lucas is given an I-Pod as a gift from his wife.  He makes a list of the top 100 rock and roll songs of all time that he wants on his I-Pod.  This becomes a minor subplot as he and his friends bicker about what to include and not to include.  I tweaked the idea a bit and decided to make a list of my ultimate road trip songs.  I semi-regularly pick a song and post it with a YouTube clip of that same song.  I do this for my own amusement, figuring that nobody is interested, but I am happy when I get a like or a comment.  And deep down in my heart, I hope that some FB friends, especially my former students, will listen to the clip because they have never heard the song before and maybe they will expand their musical horizons.

The criteria is pretty flexible.  In truth, I make it up as I go.  I tend toward long songs when I travel because they chew up time and scenery.  For the most part they should be driving and/or upbeat, but not all the time.  For example,  I selected “Scarborough Fair” because that is the song played in “The Graduate” when Dustin Hoffman drives from Santa Barbara to Berkeley.  Many of my choices are about being on the road, although this is not a requirement.  Of course, just like Lucas, I have received several suggestions from my friends.  I always take the suggestions under advisement, listen to the song if I am not familiar with it.  If I like the song, I will select it and thank the friend for participating in the home edition of the list.

In many cases I pick a song because it received a lot of radio play while I was traveling from Prescott to Azusa, California (and later Albuquerque to Azusa) during my college days.  I did not have an 8 track player in my car, so I was forced to listen to the radio, or, because there were long stretches of road where there was no radio reception, I would play some homemade cassette tapes on a little recorder/player on the front seat.

Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” is one of those songs.  Today I selected it as #58 on my Fantastic Road-trip List.

I first heard “Maggie May” in Prescott,Arizona, around the time I was packing up and getting ready to travel to Azusa for the fall semester. in 1971.  The song was actually the B side of “Reason to Believe”, but “Maggie May” kept getting more play time, because it is a much better song.  It finally topped the charts in October, simultaneously reaching #1 in the UK and the US. (For a little rock and roll trivia, it replaced “Go Away Little Girl” by Donnie Osmond as the number one song.   Yes, this Osmond song did receive a lot of air time, but no, it is not making the list.  Even I have standards.)

But I have a stronger memory of “Maggie May” than those college days, and it isn’t a  pretty memory. For the first, only, and last time I sang Karaoke, I elected to sing “Maggie Mae”.

It was at a faculty Christmas party.  The host had a karaoke machine.  I am not a huge fan of Karaoke.  It serves no purpose other than to allow someone to humiliate themselves in front of drunk strangers.  I have seen some hideous things done in the name of a karaoke performance that good taste and decency prevent me from discussing in a public forum such as this blog.  Some things should never, ever be shared.

Back to the Christmas party.  The host kept encouraging people to get on the karaoke machine.  But there were no takers.  Two of our female faculty members wanted to sing karaoke, but didn’t want to be the first ones.  They indicated a willingness to sing if someone else would break the ice.  At that point they turned, looked at me, batted their eyes and told me that if I would sing first they would surely sing next.  They also said some vague things about how much fun it would be, pretty please, etc. etc.  Guys, you know the drill.  So even as my logical thinking brain was telling me that no good could come of this, I, for some reason believing I was destined to save the party, grabbed the mic and the book and took my first step into the black hole of karaoke.

To this day I cannot fathom why I chose the song “Maggie May”.  There were plenty of other good songs to pick.   Besides, to properly sing “Maggie” one needs to like gargle with battery acid to get that Rod Stewart rock and roll raspy voice.  Or at least have a bad case of strep throat.

“Wake up Maggie”… and let the humiliation proceed.

Of course, most readers, especially guys, know the outcome of this little tale.  Much like Charley Brown, Lucy and the football, the girls pulled the ball and I fell flat on my back.  As I handed them the mic, they demurely declined saying something about not being interested anymore and they went out to the backyard to grab some more food.

When John Lennon’s character in “How I Won the War” was shot by Germans, Lennon looks into the camera and says “I knew this would happen, you knew this would happen.”

Just like that movie, no surprises here.

I should have sang the Donny Osmond song.

I am, however, reminded of another song, one that I should have thought of at the time.  The Who’s “We Won’t Be Fooled Again.”



After I made the decision to go into the wedding photography business, I began researching what types of pictures were normally shot at a wedding.  Every blog I looked at all featured photographs of the dress hanging in front of a window, or off of a tree.  They also included pictures of the flowers, the cake, the reception decorations, invitations and all other types of wedding paraphernalia.  And shoes.  The bride’s shoes.  I hate to say this, but I became fixated on the “why” of shooting the bride’s shoes.  So I asked the people who I thought might know the answer; wedding photographers and brides.

The wedding photographers gave me a pretty sophisticated answer.  The first reason was that the bride requested it.  Makes sense since we work for the bride.  The second part was business related.  The photographers usually posted the shoe photos on their blogs and listed the name of the shoe supplier with a link to that supplier’s site.  Free advertisement for the shoe company with the shoe company giving out positive recommends for the photographer.

The brides’ answer was simple: girls dig shoes!

After pondering this for some time, I came to the following  hypothesis;  when it comes to weddings there are things “girly” and there are things of “beauty” And I don’t use the word girly in a derogatory way. I use it in a complimentary manner in the sense that if the subject of the photograph is girly, the female photographer “gets” it.  For example, when Diana Elizabeth, Melissa Jill or Jasmine Star post  photographs of the brides shoes, those pictures look special.  That is because, in my humble opinion, the women are in tune with the whole shoe scene.  They appreciate what the bride went through to pick out the perfect shoe for the day.  They might even want a pair just like them, only not in the same color.  The ladies understand.  And this understanding and love of shoes goes into all the technical and artistic intricacies and embeds itself into that photograph of the bride’s shoes.

But one might ask, “don’t the shoes exhibit beauty?”  Yes they do, absolutely. My point is that  I may see the beauty of the shoes, but I will never appreciate the beauty of the shoes the way a female photographer does.  I believe that appreciation gives her the opportunity to capture that image in personal way that I am not able to do.

The beauty that I am referring to is the universal beauty that can be appreciated and understood by both male and female photographers.  We all can see the beauty of the bride, understanding the hours, days and maybe years that she spent planning on looking as beautiful as she does on her important day.  We see her beauty reflected in the face of the groom as he turns and sees her at the “first look”, or as he catches that first glimpse of his lady-love as she proceeds down the aisle.  And capturing that beauty is what drives us as photographers.  We look through that viewfinder and use the lenses, the settings, our technical and artistic skills to reach out and bring that beauty into the camera to be preserved for bride and groom so they may spark the memories and the stories of that one special day.

As a wedding photographer, I work for the bride.  If she wants pictures of her shoes, I will take them and do the best I can technically and creatively to capture the best photograph possible.  It is her wedding and it is up to me to photograph the memories she wants.  But let me say that I felt extremely fortunate when my last bride politely declined to have me photograph her shoes.  It did not hurt my feelings.

Now if someone would explain to me this whole “trash the dress” thing.

Daily footwear for the retired gentleman.


Finally got the wedding loaded up to Pictage.  It was a tedious process.  I could get about 5-10 pictures uploaded and then I would lose the internet connection.  The tech I talked to at my cable company tried to blame it on the size of the pictures I was sending, or the site I was sending it to.  Something tells me that highly paid professionals that are uploading thousands of pictures to one of the premier photosites are NOT having the same problems that I am having.  Could it be my modem, which is 9 years old and is only supposed to be good for about 5 years?  I must get this cleared up before my next assignment.  Regardless, it feels terrific to be done.

For the immediate future I will continue to work on improving my photography and editing skills, and drum up some future assignments.  One of my many mentors said that the business of photography is 10% photography and 95% business.  So back to blogging and planning out my next steps.  However, I think I will take a guilt-free nap sometime in the near future.  I read somewhere that before the Beatles were famous that John Lennon came home from a Hamburg tour and slept for 3 days.  Sounds like a plan to me.

When the mother of the bride (see previous post) was an infant, I did talk her dad into putting her in a windup swing while he and I played a board game.  It worked. She was quiet and happy.  Her dad felt guilty.

She turned out just fine.

Another cool little tidbit from the wedding.  Pita Jungle catered the reception.  I mentioned to Mom that a former student of mine was a cook there.  She said that Josh, the cook, had told her that.   She also told me that Josh told her they were getting a real good photographer for the wedding.  I was flattered.  Josh and I go way back.  His dad was my assistant track coach for many years.  Josh took two years of photography from me and ran track for me as well.  He was the Arizona state champion in pole vaulting his junior year.  I also accidentally smashed Josh’s fingers in a door when he was 8 years old.  I am glad to know he doesn’t hold that against me.

One last thing.  I am pretty hit or miss about adding tags.  During my blogging on the Olympics, however, I was pretty good about adding tags to my posts.  I don’t get very many comments on my posts, so I scan my spam comments just to entertain myself.  In one of them I was congratulated on my Olympic victory.  Got to love spiders or what ever they are called.  Gave me a good laugh.I also printed it and framed it.


or as a friend of mine said, “that achingly cute couple.”    This was a very special wedding for me to shoot as my connection to Mallory extends back to the 1st grade at good old Washington Elementary School in Prescott, AZ.  This is where Mallory’s grandfather and I met and ended up becoming life long friends.  True BFFs.  Mallory’s mother, Gigi, was a newborn when she was a passenger in my car as her parents and I drove back to college from Prescott to Azusa, CA, at the end of the Thanksgiving holiday.  When Gigi and I talked over the wedding weekend she reminded me of two stories.

The first one is how I talked her dad in to putting her in a wind-up swing so he and I could play a board game uninterrupted for a few moments.  In his defense, dad didn’t want to do it.  I talked him into it.  And whenever he felt guilty, I would point at her swinging away contentedly  and say, “She’s fine!  She will grow up okay.  Your roll.”   Gigi turned out fine.  She is a mother of three, a published author and a home-school-er and a wonderful person.  On the other hand, maybe if she hadn’t been put in the swing, she mind have found a cure for some disease by now.  Who knows.

The  second story was of the time she lived in Phoenix and needed help moving from a bottom floor apartment to a second floor apartment.  In the summer.  Did I mention in Phoenix?  Just me, dad and her moving furniture in 100+ degrees.  What a long, hot day.  There was one positive thing that came out of that day.  I learned that the best way to cool down quickly was to stick my head into the freezer.  A trick I still use to this day.

As for Mallory, the last time I had seen her she was about 10 years old.  It was a pleasure to meet her again and see what I fine young woman she grew up to be.  She met the groom, John, at church.  He is the drummer and she is the singer for the church band.  One Sunday he proposed to Mallory at the end of church services.  I am told there wasn’t a dry eye in the congregation that day.

Mallory and Johnnie’s wedding was a simple affair.  No MUAs, no hairstylists, no maid of honor or bridesmaids, no best man or groomsmen.  Mallory’s future mother-in-law made the food for the rehearsal dinner, made the wedding cake and provided the flowers. The music was provided by the church guitarist.   The whole wedding day was just a celebration of the binding  of these to young hearts together.  I am glad I was given the opportunity to  photograph the joy and the love of Mallory and Johnnie’s wedding.


I found out from Mallory that she had taken photography in high school.  I told her that as a photography teacher I told my students not to take “say cheese” photographs, or “duck lips” or other forms of mugging for the camera.  I may have imagined this, but it seemed like a lot of times when she caught me ready to take a shot she would throw a little “mugging” pose for the camera.  I’ll let you be the judge.  I loved Mallory’s sense of humor.



There was a crowd of family and friends for the First Look.  The bride pinches the groom on the side of the arm.  He turns and that magical moment happens when he sees his lovely bride for the first time in her wedding dress.  They embrace and are getting ready to kiss when the gallery starts yelling “You can’t kiss!  No kissing until after the ceremony.”  That may have been the longest 30 seconds of the young couple’s life, embracing each other, wanting to kiss, but deciding instead just to “air kiss” a few times.



I wanted to get a few shots of Mallory right before the ceremony got started.  People told me she was in a particular room.  I went to the room and found it totally dark except for a little light through an inside window.  Mallory was in a tiny room with her two sisters, an I-pod playing contemporary Christian music and Mallory beautifully singing along.  I don’t even know if she was even aware that I had entered the room and was taking pictures.  This is one of my favorite images of that time.


“My turn to to read the vows!” excitement.

The church, Canyon Chapel, is a renovated Pep Boys.  On the Thursday before the wedding, the decision was made to move the reception to the basement of the church.  The not quite so renovated basement of Pep Boys.  Over the next two days friends and family worked tirelessly to turn that basement into a reception worthy room.  It reminded me of the barn building scene in “Witness.”  I had seen the basement Thursday when the renovation had just started.  When I showed up Saturday it was just like “wow!” And all this work was done cheerfully.  I believe this to be a testament to the love and affection that people feel for this young couple.

Smiling, Happy People, Kissing, Dancing, Kids, and did I mention Kissing?

Good fortune and God’s blessings to John and Mallory.

Music provide by Terry Alan; Founder and guitar instructor at the Flagstaff School of Music.

Reception catered by Pita Jungle.  Former student Josh Devlin is a cook there.

Music of this blog:  Gordon Lightfoot classic love songs.

I would like to thank my second shooter, Noel Palomino.  The day after I learned I was going to be photographing this wedding, Noel and I went to lunch.  I explained to her that I knew a couple of people that I could ask to second shoot for me, but I didn’t feel right asking them to go up to Flagstaff  to do it on their own dime.  She immediately volunteered her services, telling me she would be back in Flagstaff by then.  Noel is a former photography student of mine, so I knew I could count on her taking decent shots.  She was of great help to me that day.