The Great Journey in Photography

Real Superstars and the “P” Word

Brown Pelican in Southern California

300mm f4.4 110iso 1/1000sec

Where I come from a “Superstar” is just a hamburger on the menu of Carls Jr restaurant. Our neighborhood has some older folks, some immigrants, and some young families just like many others around the world. Sure you might run into a crook once in a blue moon but for the most part we are all humble hard-working people. My entire professional life has been composed of supporting positions. I have seen a couple of superstars I suppose, a bunch more rising stars that crash and burn, but mostly we just made bunches of money for our employer. 1995 I was given an employee of the year award from the fortune 500 corporation I worked for at the time. The Award was for being the best employee in a support position. I keep that award in a place of honor in my home. In the grand scheme of things it has no meaning yet it still it holds that place of honor. That’s the life of humble hard-working people.

The other day I was watching one of my favorite photography podcasts and the host of that show, talking about the next weeks’ guest, referred to him as a “superstar photographer”. I take an exception to that. I don’t doubt that person is very talented and I am quite sure that he is far more talented than am I, yet I still take the exception. I don’t want to begrudge anyone of their status I just think that the role of a photographer should be one of support, to make others superstars.

Some of you may already know that I really don’t like the word passion. I find it to be over used and having different meaning to different people so I pretty much avoid it all together. Today I will just call it the “P” word.

I am currently working on a project featuring Brown Pelicans. There are a pair that I keep running into at one of my favorite places. It is pretty unusual this time of year as most of the Browns have moved on for the season. There are sometimes a couple here and there that stay year round but they tend to keep to themselves during the Summer. This year is different. That pair are always hanging around, so much so that I am beginning to think of them as my extended pet family. They appear to me to be healthy and content which has not always been the case in recent years. My two Browns have to be the most friendly birds I have run across in quite a long time. I know that there are technical and biological reasons for everything they do, but in the heat of the moment I prefer to think of the fishing and flying antics as just having fun. I love photographing them because they are so open and approachable. In just a few short months they will just be faces in a crowd and after that most likely, never to be seen again. Many photographers avoid Brown Pelicans during the Summer months because they don’t have breeding plumage. Good reason for that too, the colors in Winter are really quite spectacular. As it turns out though the almost pre-historic look of summer works very well for the project I am working on and that project will probably be comprised of just this pair.

As much as anything I want these two characters to become known. I want to illustrate their charms and beauty and grace of flight. If by some miracle the project is very successful, I want them to be the superstars of my work. In just a couple of short months my two Browns have become so much to me. Great subjects for sure but also entertain, teaching about biology and behavior, patience, contentment, and maybe even a life lesson here and there. It is not often that humble hard-working folk shed tears but when I see my two pelicans for real or on my screen my eyes can’t help but well up a bit.

And that my friends is how I define the “P” word.

You can follow me on twitter @RonBoyd

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