Monday, June 05, 2017

The Truth of Who We Are | Life, Love and Old Luggage

Writing spontaneously has always been cathartic. Along with image-making the art of the written word has served me well as the outlets that not only relieve a bit of built-up emotion but both have always come natural with how I express and connect. I fit well the description of that extroverted introvert described in an article a friend posted just yesterday.

So what is it I’m expressing today? Well it has to do with the image included with this post. Pretty ordinary, huh? Luggage on a rental car bus. But there is so much more here than what first meets the eye.

See that canvas bag in the middle? That’s mine. It’s seen many miles of travel since when I first purchased it at The Orvis Store  (now gone too) in Dayton, Ohio in spring 2008, over nine years ago.

On this trip to Dallas, Texas, to see my oldest daughter Emma graduate from high school, I was noticing all the scratches and stains on this bag and in that noticing came a bittersweet introspection.

You see that particular piece of luggage was purchased just after I had separated from the mother of my daughters, Emma and Chloe, and she and the girls moved to Texas. I stayed in Ohio. My daughters were only six and eight years old at that time.

I didn’t have a clue as to what that next chapter in my life - that of a single dad - would bring and I don’t think much could have prepared me for the experience. And I know nothing in the world could have prepared my daughters for what they were about to go through either.

Nine years and more trips to Dallas than I can remember, from Ohio, and then from South Carolina, and from Ohio again. Rental cars and rooms at the Comfort Suites in Frisco, TX. And my girls flying the unaccompanied minor route back and forth as well. Summers and holidays. Emma living with me for 7th grade in South Carolina and now Chloe in Ohio for her high school years.

It’s not the ideal childhood, not by a long shot, but through it all they’ve both turned out to be awesome young ladies. Smart, determined and full of courage. Adjusting to college will be a breeze for both.

They tell you when your kids are that age - six and eight - don’t blink because the years they spend growing up will flash before your eyes. At that time all I was thinking about is getting through the summer with both safe and happy and making sure they arrived safely back to their mom when they’d return to Texas.

You don’t even realize just how quickly they do grow-up and before you know it you’re on your way to catch a flight back to Ohio after seeing your oldest graduate from high school. It’s at that point - looking at an old piece of luggage across the way - that it hits you.

Damn. How did that happen?!?

I have two more years with Chloe but I’m sure that will fly by even quicker, especially now that I will try to hold onto time even more.

I said it before and I will say it again, parenthood is the great equalizer. When you are there in it you will be humbled away from too much of the self, too much of the past. Kids have a way of keeping things moving in a forward direction, and that’s a good thing.

And I’m guessing that it’s at this point when kids reach this age that parents start to question themselves - “did I do the right thing, was I good mom or dad, could there have been a better way?” I do that a lot in my life. It’s part of coming from a big family that can sometimes be “lovingly critical” and a bit limited in the experiences of single parenthood, but always meaning well. I’ve learned to just accept the fact that even in families separate worlds can peacefully coexist, and that’s cool.

Families have changed since my near-ideal childhood of 1970’s Midwest suburbia. Or at least it looked “near ideal” from my perspective. Is it right to compare one generation of parents to the next? The older and wiser I become I’m thinking not.

It’s like what I just overheard stated by a fellow traveler on my most recent flight from Texas to Ohio, “it is what it is.”

Let the second-guessing go. Smile and nod at the critics. And keep moving forward with that old piece of canvas luggage.

Hearts get worn and stained too but what they carry grows in value that all the gold and silver will never keep up with.

I think about all the times I stressed and worried and occasionally cried goodbye as my girls grew-up from elementary through middle school. It’s a little scary when they’re gone away and I’m sure it was that way for their mother as well.

The journey of parenthood is that great classic that never grows old. Settings and situations may change and distances may be more involved than before, but the reward remains the same.

To love, to make a difference, to grow older and re-prioritize. To let the small stuff fall away and accept the peace in knowing that there is never a need to impress and be overly vain with what is fleeting and shallow. And to have an old, worn piece of luggage to remind me of the miles invested in the soul connection with a child’s heart.
What I was meant to be doing was there for me all along.

Now the real fun begins, as I was reminded by my girlfriend Karen, herself a grandmother. “College, weddings, grandchildren.”

You stop just long enough to notice how far life has taken you and then you keep going, doing the best you can, in life, parenthood and love.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Picture of Health | Jim Crotty Prints at Miami Valley Hospital

I'm happy to announce the photographs I captured on assignment last summer are now installed as backlit wall display prints at the soon-to-be opening of the remodel of the Rubicon Cafeteria at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton. I am very thankful for the business and opportunity. This project was a creative collaborative effort with Deck the Walls and App Architecture.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

2nd Spring Nature Photography Workshop Added for May 2017

I'm happy to announce that I have added a second, full day nature photography workshop for May 2017. In addition to the workshop in Hocking Hills Ohio on Saturday May 6th I will also be presenting a workshop at Cox Arboretum MetroPark near Dayton Ohio on Saturday May 20th. Both programs will be based on mastering the craft and art of spring nature photography. I present my workshops as an effective balance between both in-classroom instruction and field instruction, culminating in a review of select images from the students. The majority of my workshop students are those just starting out with their first DSLR camera but I also make it a point to include advanced instruction for the more experienced photographers. Additional details and registration information is available at
 May 20 2017 Spring Nature Photography Workshop in Dayton Ohio

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Learn the Art of Spring Nature Photography in Hocking Hills

Join Professional Photographer Jim Crotty as he returns to his favorite location in Ohio for nature and landscape photography, to do what he loves - teaching the art of capturing images and composing subjects and scenes in what he considers the best time of year in Hocking Hills - spring.

Jim will be leading a small group (his workshops are limited to 20 participants) along the best trails in Hocking Hills for capturing stunning imagery of the Hemlock-filled forests, waterfalls, streams and spring flora.

Instruction will be held both on the trail and in the classroom at The Inn at Cedar Falls - the perfect centralized location within the Park for easy access to the most scenic areas. From discovering or enhancing the photographer’s creative vision to grasping the technicalities of nature photography with the DSLR camera, Jim will be sharing his favorite tips and techniques for composing nature imagery that tells the true story of the true beauty of this special place.

Beginners are welcomed as well as advanced photographers. Jim is known for workshops that provide a valuable and fun learning experience for all who attend.

The cost is $100 per person for the full-day workshop (8AM to 5PM) which includes professional guidance and instruction, handout materials and lunch at The Inn at Cedar Falls. Fee does not include transportation and accommodations. Workshop participants who choose to stay overnight at The Inn at Cedar Falls will receive a special workshop discount.

To register please email or call 937-896-6311. Once again this workshop is limited to the first 20 people who register so please email or call soon.