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Portrait of Carole

Most of the people that I included in my portrait project have been total strangers. Because of this, a lot of people that know me ask, “How can you walk up to somebody and just ask them if you can take their picture?”

I tell them, “That’s just what I do.” It’s not really that hard. Friends ask about rejection and I tell them I get rejected at least 67% of the time. At this point, I can even identify those who will say no before I even ask.

On the other hand, Carole, is somebody I know well. Carole used to live close by, but moved out of Antelope Valley, so I don’t get to see her anymore. However, since she was the founder of Lancaster Bark at the Park, once a year, she comes back to Lancaster, California, USA to run the Bark in the Park event.

I know Carole because she helped me train my dogs. She not only was my trainer for basic obedience, but also was my trainer for pet therapy. I used to have a dog Hector who Carole tested for the pet therapy program. Then she also trained us to be a pet therapy team. After Hector and I got into the program, she monitored our progress as volunteers and transitioned us into volunteering at the local hospital.

When Hector died, Carole was the first person I called, and she said the most kind and encouraging words. I think of these words whenever I miss Hector. I have not participated in Pet Therapy since.

Carole is such an amazing person not only because of what she does for dogs and the whole canine community, but also how she helps people in hospitals by training so many human/canine teams to visit in the most safe and healthy manner.

When Carole taught class, her philosophy was to make the dogs and their human companions compatible to society such that the people who didn’t like dogs would still be comfortable to have dogs within civilization

I can’t thank Carole enough; not only for everything she’s done for me personally, but everything she’s done for the community and for dogs in general.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin ©2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Netty

Netty and I met at  Antelope Valley Hospital, Lancaster, California, USA. Netty started talking to me about my shorts, of all things; she liked the pockets in my cargo shorts.

I realized right away, by how colorfully she appeared and spoke, she was an artist. Then I perused a fashion magazine and I saw someone wearing an outfit that I thought she might want to wear, so, I showed it to her. This prompted a conversation about photography and art. I showed her some of my portrait work which she admired.

I requested to include her in my portrait project. She didn’t want me to make her picture because she didn’t like how she looked in pictures, but she consented after I promised her I would make a wonderful picture of her.

We were outside, in front of the hospital’s volunteer office, by the memorial garden for the pet therapy program dogs that passed away. My dog, Hector, had participated in the pet therapy program until four years prior to this posting, when he died. Netty mentioned that she herself had two therapy dogs at some time in her life, so it meant a lot to both of us to be there.

I brought out a little stool and a Netty sat among the Roses. She felt very spiritual and suddenly put her hands in Namaste position. I asked her to keep her hands in that position and to look up.  I snapped a few shots like that and ended up with what we both agreed was a perfect portrait of her spirituality, colorfulness and hopefulness.

Netty was originally from Dillonvale, Jefferson County, Ohio, USA, which was very close to West Virginia, “in the sticks.” Netty said she was a Coal Miner’s granddaughter. Her family was the first and only black family in the town. She learned how to love everybody for just who they were and “I’m never going to change that.”

Artist Netty was a spiritual being who was, “trying to spread hope and love to everyone I touch. That’s what I’m doing here.” Netty’s art often had a message to it. “I don’t name my pieces because I want the pieces to bring out their own power.” Most of her work was recycled art, that is, things that “already passed” and needed to be “re-purposed.”

Netty said she did show her art “way up North,” but didn’t show anywhere in the Antelope Valley area. She was not sure if it was simply not important to show her work or she just didn’t have courage.

It was an honor and a pleasure to meet someone with as wonderful a spirit and heart as Netty.

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21-N is for No

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Wordless Wednesday
My favorite thing about fall!!


Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin ©2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.