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That quickly being said… the most challenging form of photography is … to me… also the most rewarding. Capturing the most elusive… is more challenging… and rare. Some photographers spend their lives trying to capture this “highest” of photography…. and end up with only a handful of truly magnificent photographs of the genre. And of course this is my own opinion… so no fire and pitchforks please. Now… this post is not dismissing the difficulty and rarity of capturing a glint of morning sun kissing the tops of the Tetons during a thunderstorm. Nope… but that kind of photographs only requires massive amounts of luck and patience. Nor is it the amazing ability of strobe lights to capture a droplet of water glistening on the side of a tall glass of Bud.

No… I believe the most difficult and elusive kind of photography is one that involves mood or emotion or both at the same instant. True… the Teton photo can be emotional but on the big scale of things… personally I think it ranks lower than… pure human emotion. Now… I am not talking about a basket full of kittens here… nope. I am talking about mood that you can cut with a knife… or emotion that just leaps off the page. I have been a student of photography for a long time and I admit readily that there is not a “how to” on the subject. And I have taken many many thousands of photographs but only a handful comes even close to being really good examples of what I am talking about. That is why you will not see “20 of my best”… because they just don’t exist. Having said all of that… here are a few that I would place in the “almost qualifies” group. Mind you… decades of shooting and these are only close. But as I said on the onset… they can be the most rewarding.


“Are you kidding Gene?” Nope… I like this because it is an unintended statement against smoking. Think of all of the emotional entanglements that smoking has had in today’s society. Imagine all of the lives that have been cut short by this “harmless pastime”. And here on the side of a building was a statement against it.It is not about lighting… instead it is all about the message. Strong stuff.


Elation! You just can’t stop yourself from putting an exclamation point after the word…”elation”. Happiness is one thing but to experience something so instantly fulfilling… now that is an emotion that is hard to capture. Kind of like seeing the faces of two cheerleaders on opposite sides of the field at the end of a high school football game that is won/lost in the last second of the game. I don’t have those photos… but I wished I had.


Kindness. What a simple emotion… unfortunately it doesn’t happen all of the time…and rarely in front of a camera. You can thank a 200mm for this one.

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I have shown this before. It is one of my favorites of the 75,000 I have taken. Raw. Simple. A lifetime of not having an address on Easy Street. Deep emotions carved by decades of treading water in the dust of Oklahoma.

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Hate. It is a raw emotion that is usually reserved for riots and marches and injustice. In this case… privacy rights.

So… when you happen to have the planets align and an emotion appears before you instead of a basket of kittens… give it your best shot.

Happy trails.


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