The impetus behind the creation of this collection of essays is based on three indisputable realities of my current life. 

1.  I am a writer. Even in my most self-critical moments, I feel and know I can write. I have been told that I have unique stories to tell about my life, my self.  I must tell them.

2.  My supportive friends and family have not only been appreciative of my literary potential but they have been honestly realistic in their encouragement. 

“You are getting old and before you die you have to write your stories. You are a great writer.” Ah, albeit sincere and well intentioned, a compliment under the threat of numbered days. But I have come to understand its truthfulness and the urgency. And I know they are right.

3.  Recently, I decided to invest in a good camera. I have always embraced the power of photography. And I wanted to explore my potential as a photographer. I felt the urge to elevate my picture taking beyond the selfie snaps and cell phone spontaneity. 

I was not surprised at this latest desire. I have spent my life honing an appreciative eye for the elements of design and genres of art.  With such immersion, I have enriched my personal perspective and brought such love and beauty into my world. It has sustained me through the best and worst of times. 

These three factors became voices in my head…compelling, commanding drives that begged action.  And, in the past year, when ideas and sentences exploded in my mind, I would write my revelations on anything I could immediately reach. I have drawers full of napkins, torn pieces of paper, dog eared pages of notebooks filled with remnants of thoughts that ultimately would be transcribed to my computer. Then I would spend hours in cafes and on my couch typing away.

Likewise, with a camera strapped securely around my neck, I went on scouting missions seeking locations to photograph. I chose sites that personally resonated with their unique beauty and meaning. I also returned to familiar places which I knew would offer picture perfect opportunities. Gardens, city skylines, broken down barns, and specific landmarks from my life.  I perused photography journals, took classes, and scrolled through websites. I studied such iconic photographers as Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke-White, Cecil Beaton to gain an appreciation of their unique eye. I am under no delusion that I will emulate them. Rather, I am seeking to glean an understanding of their specific, brilliant visions. And perhaps, as a result, I will be inspired to develop and tap into my own style and power behind the camera. I found myself visiting friends and family to photograph their children, their homes, their neighborhoods, their dogs.  I wanted to honor their contributions to my life. I also took shots of strangers as they moved about their daily worlds.  I knew each had a story to tell.

I have come to witness that, in photography, the last hour before sunset and the first hour after the sunrise of each day is referred to as “the golden hour” or “magic hour”. These times provide the perfect light to capture extraordinary photos.  I have come to learn that if you take photos at other times of the day, indoor or out, a good photographer must replicate the essence of such lighting perfection. When I first heard these “golden” references, I thought they were more than technical terms of camera programming…the phrases were richly mystical. Their promise and power resonated. Consummate metaphors.

As well, as a storyteller, I have discovered that good writing often requires an inspirational point when the words, the images pour out of your being and onto paper…uninterrupted and uninhibited to create the truest sentence, the most compelling story line. I have heard that this place of self-genius is called “the zone”.  That aspirational moment and place sought by every author. It is not guaranteed or constant, but when reached, there is magic.  Another consummate metaphor.

And so…I am writing. I am taking pictures. My days are full and happy as I seek that “place” when, with the stroke of my key pad or a click of the camera, I capture my personal, golden zone of satisfaction and pride. 

As time passed, I have found myself wondering if there was more. A higher self-vision; an ultimate immersion that could pull everything together. What if, in seeking that golden hour and that ultimate zone of writing expression, I could embrace both experiences into one?  Could there be an experiential marriage aligning images and words? More specifically, mywriting and my pictures? Is that necessary? Is it even attainable?

My “aha” realization and answer came to me unplanned and unsolicited on a raining Fall day. As usual, my time was spent with the ordinary logistics of routine. As the afternoon drew to a close, I still had to take out the garbage.  I walked outside and, to my astonishment, I saw the largest, most vivid rainbow.  I ran and got my camera and started snapping away. Within the confines of my immediate environment, I could just sense that, as amazing as this rainbow was, the pictures were not capturing its total essence. I just knew I needed to find a better setting.  I jumped into my car, throwing the camera in the back seat.

 It was still raining and the late afternoon traffic was slowing me down. But I was on a quest. I knew that there was a sprawling vineyard on the other side of town. I had to get there before the rainbow disappeared behind darkening clouds. I drove through stop signs and cut in front of cars. When I arrived at my “spot”, it was indeed as stunning as I had hoped. As the rain poured over me, I ran through the rows of vines, somewhat frenetically clicking. The autumnal colors of the leaves glistened as the spectrum of the rainbow seemed to leap out of the sky in a colorful, vivid embrace. I felt like Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz, over my own private rainbow. As I danced around and searched for perfect angles, I could immediately sense which shots were adequate, which were good, and which were “the ones”. It was a thunderbolt connection with the lens. I was in an optimal place of creativity.

Later that evening, as I viewed and transferred the photos to my computer, I confirmed that my instinct did indeed recognize such personal perfection.  And, as I scrolled all the photos saved in my repository, I came to understand why the best ones evoked such emotion.  Visual images that captured the moment and emotion yet also held meaning and intention.  Photo to photo. I understood. I heard the words in my head.

I sank into my living room sofa in my Eliza Doolittle moment. By George, I got it. My life experiences, my writing, and now my photos are interconnected.  Together a stronger, deeper, and complete story can be told. It is all coming together and time to step into my complete zone, of light and life.  

I understand what is next. My exciting, ultimate journey has begun.

I dedicate the following chapters to my family and friends who have always supported me and never stopped encouraging me to believe in my power to express. Their love and steadfast support have saved me.

For specific reasons that impacted this work, I do want to make these special call outs of thanks:

To my photographer daughter Kristin who helped me purchase my camera and gave me my first lesson. Everything would have stopped had she not simply helped her Mother.

To my Mother, Marie Baptista Pereira…that beautiful, flawed, loving, complicated woman who gave to me as much as she took away. Throughout, there was always love and she remains my inspiration. The legacy she left and the foundation she gave (for better or worse) created my inner self and my life journey. I hope she would be proud.

To my Grandfather Alvaro Pereira. My grandmother, Lina, and he were the steadfast, loving, and kind figures of my childhood. It is the strong image of this handsome man carrying his camera that prevails in my head, in my heart. His photos chronicled my early years when everyone else was too busy or too unknowing to do so. To this day, whenever I hold one of his black and white photos in my hand, my heart swells. Images of my childhood, family, and heritage. It has been the ultimate inheritance.

And, last but not least, to my brother Paul. Without his noble and ethical heart, I honestly do not know where I would be today.

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