Saturday, December 5, 2015

Christmas Time Is Here

  Hello December!

Yes guys, we have made it to this wonderful time of year. Festive happiness and music echos throughout my decked out halls and oh the Christmas tree glows with lights around its lovely branches. The nights are silent and holy indeed, as we celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, God with us, on that first noel. Like the night of our dear Saviors birth in the little town of Bethlehem, silent stars go by as the nights deepen in length and wintry chill.

Or maybe that's just Jack Frost nipping at my nose.

But even as it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, I do not see a white Christmas yet to come, considering that past Christmases have only been frightful at times, but never snowy, just like it is every year. Except for that freak winter in 1999... Yet I will still gather all ye faithful and sing hearty carols of let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...please? I'll let you know if we are joyful and triumphant, but I still doubt that folks will dress up like Eskimos this year, bah humbug. 

Well, that was fun. 

As I write this rather festive post, and Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas is softly filling me with festive cheer, I look outside and wonder what it would be like to see snow gently release from dense clouds to glide through chilled air and blanket a town in white. There has always been a very early childhood image that comes to my mind when I think of Christmas and winter: a lane stretching long and far filled with cozy Christmas shops and lights strung from shop to shop, illuminating the streets in dappled pools of festive light, and everything is covered in snow.

But this is not to be in my town. I guess I can't miss what I have not experienced, but really, wishing for a fantasy and receiving a reality instead can induce a similar emotion of longing, even if that longing is just a thought of what could be. This only means that my winter wonderland is special in it's own way. Family traditions of Christmas movies with a log on the fire, caroling out in the, uh, maybe cold weather with close friends, church productions, listening to Christmas music non stop, tea and coffee, and lots of candles. All will be merry and bright no matter what the weather is outside, for it is what's on the inside that counts. 

This unfulfilled idea does not damper my spirit in the least, but has propelled my desire to create that which I have only dreamed into a reality, to let my imagination pour into something tangible, even if it is simply adding snow to an image. So, in the middle of June this year, I looked at this image in a new light and brought this fanciful thought of snow in my little town of Bakersfield to life. Yet with this idea brought to life, it can never replace the special Christmas that I have.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Monday, November 16, 2015

It Finally Feels Like Autumn

  Autumn. What a beautiful season this is.
  I don't have any special photo to share in this post, just a simple leaf. A little leaf hanging on to the branch it grew up on, clinging to it's relatives of the same bough. I can imagine it gazing down on it's dead kin laying upon the soft earth below, trembling with dread for the inevitable end it has been traveling to all summer, the same end this little leaf has witnessed others meet throughout the Autumn season. Maybe this is the sound we hear when the wind passes through the branches of trees. Perhaps the wind it just a silent exhale from mountains far away and all we hear are the hushed screams of desperation drift through the air as the leaves are snatched away from their life on the arms of their tree and descend to the ground in their coats of Autumn hues. 
  Could this be the reason clouds cry?
  I think my favorite part about this time of year is that every time I step outside and the chilled air hits my skin, I am overcome with wonder of the masterful artistry of God and with every breath of air, every color, every scent, I am so captivated in fascination that each step excites me. I am also prone to let my mind wander through a world I do not live in, letting my imagination sore with clouds that mourn and mountains that breath.

   I am going to ask a question. I am hesitant to do this for I don't really know if anyone will respond, but I have concluded that it won't hurt to try.
  If you could allow any one thing that is naturally inaudible speak in the human tongue, what would you choose?
  If I could ever have this choice, I would choose a tree. They have always been something that has captured my curiosity. Would this have anything to do with my reading of the Lord of The Rings and my adoration of those books? Definitely.
  Specifically, I would very much like to talk with a might oak or a swaying birch. I wonder if their voices would differ. Would they have an abundance of wisdom from ancient years in the earth, or do they sleep through the years?
  Well, that's my choice. What would you choose? 

Monday, October 19, 2015

My Soul Will Fly Away.

   To me, contrary to the general opinion of my family and really of all the people I know, this is my favorite day of all. There is a freshness on this day that I just don't feel on other days and when I wake up to a drowsy sun just about to rise, I am inspired to make the week as intriguing as possible.
   It was on this day one week ago that I created this image and it has taking me exactly one week to be fully happy with it. Each day of last week, I woke up and saw different things I didn't like about it or I found something new I wanted to add. With these new things I took away or introduced, I asked myself why I had put those things in or taken them away, and it was not until I added birds and the concept of flight that I fully became aware of what I felt towards the message behind the photo.
   It is not merely a portrayal of grief, which is what I had initially planned to create, but rather, a story about death. That death is both a finality and an infinity, both dreadfully sad for those left behind but so gloriously joyous for the child of God that takes the last steps to where they have been traveling to since birth, their home in heaven.
  But for those of us who are left behind as the spirit of loved ones fly away, there is a struggle with hope. I've observed people who search for this hope, perhaps looking for something they think they need but ultimately can't find. I have seen rejection, an angry cry of "why" demanded from God, the One who knows all and who has planned everything for a specific purpose. But I have also observed people who have found hope in the arms of Christ, the same arms that received the spirits who flew through the gates of the Kingdom.
   I think the thing that fascinates me the most, and what has so captivated my mind lately, is how people are grieved by the fact of what death is. It is, in a material sense, the final page turned in the life of that person here on earth. It is complete, it is heartbreaking. But for Christians, yes we grieve for the departure of a soul we loved and will never see again on this earth, but more importantly, if that soul received spiritual life while still alive on this planet, we rejoice in what death truly means. That the soul has reached it's true home in heaven, where every Christian will arrive one day in jubilant reunion with their Creator.
   Death is mysterious. It is something we can't fully understand until we have experienced it. But for me, the mystery is exciting. We have no idea of how amazing heaven will be and this is why I think I see death in such a beautiful way.
   Well, the week has begun and now I must go and live it. But I can not help but ponder how glorious it will be when my soul, too, will fly away someday. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Cages We Build

  A hole to dig, a door to slam, a window to draw shut. The havens we create for ourselves where we run and hide from this world infected by frustration and cruelty, the ones where we refuse to hear or articulate the truth because of the fear that is whispered to us, can forever become our cages.
 It's funny how a little experiment can broaden into a deep personal connection.

 On a particularly quiet day, I set out to do a composite (a combining of photos) merely so I could get practice by doing so. I didn't want to do anything extreme, just a simple adding-of-fabric image that I had pictured (aha) in my head for a while. So I grabbed a scarf, opened the curtains, and sat down in my room with the hopes that I could indeed synchronize with the two-second timer and my flinging skills. 
   After many strange and hilarious photos of me looking a bit distracted with the scarf all over the place, I eventually honed in my timing and got a few photos of the scarf in the air.
   As I started to edit, I began to see a story develop that I had not intentionally put there. It was as if I was seeing a character grow chapter by chapter in a way that makes one feel as if they are not just reading about that character, but traveling with them on their adventure, feeling their emotions, thinking through their problems and overcoming them. And yet, as I added each element to this picture, I saw that I was not simply creating a plot and character in which to tell a fantasy, but that I was indeed that character on the adventure, getting consumed by the scarf that seemingly has locked the door to my mouth in its billowing folds of fabric, fully feeling the struggle of fighting against this confinement, and ultimately striving to overcome the conflict.
   Even with this concept in mind, I see the plot change and expand with each time I look at this photo. I don't think I have come to a full understanding of why I created this, or what exactly is the end of the story, but I think that is the most exciting thing about it. That I don't know the full extent of how this image speaks to my heart because with each new look at it, I find something new.
   I got lost in a story, yet found myself there.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Apple Picking

    Ahhh, tradition. Wonderful tradition.
    Every Autumn, our family has an annul pilgrimage to the apple farm. Granted, it's way too early for it to actually feel like Fall in Bakersfield, with 90 and beyond degrees, but it gets the sentiment going and the farm wasn't in Bakersfield, but the less warm Tehachapi.
   With the cool breeze gently swaying the lavender bushes nearby, the smell of cider drifting through the air, and apples nestled in the trees awaiting the children to pick them, you can just glimpse what the season will feel like... eventually.

Rejoice, Autumn is finally here!

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Little Moment To Cherish

   She sat inside on a cool spring day, making memories as she played. She gave her dolls voices, she built them homes, she made them laugh and play.

   This moment was not planned, I had not jotted a note down in my book of photo ideas specifically outlining every detail, nor did I wait all day for the right lighting to get a perfect shot. It simply happened. 
   I realized that I was gazing through a window into my sisters imagination, catching glimpses of how her world worked and what her little characters said as what swirled around in her head came bubbling over into her speech. The sincerity of her play time and the thoughtful fantasy she created seemed to call me to create an image out of it. And I did so in as discreet a manner as I could. 
   Clearly a photographers job is partly being a ninja, right?
   I also became aware of how this moment would change over time. The room will still be there, the walls will still be standing (hopefully), the sun will still glitter in through the window. But, slowly, the beloved blanky will be folded and stored away, the toys will start to disappear, and the girl will blossom into a woman. 
   But I will have this photo. I'll have this moment, this story of simple innocence, frozen for all time to keep forever, even when the clock continues its orbit round and round.
   Gosh, I sound like a parent and she's only my sister. But, as the eldest, I, like my parents, watch the younger ones grow up and see all the changes that accompany them over the years. I guess it's good training. But really by "good" training, I mean that I too feel the unwanted pangs of sorrow caused by watching them change as well as the overwhelming joy in seeing them grow up all colliding in a massive heap of strange ongoing nostalgia and the ever present realization of the imminent unknown future.
   The alleviation for this is something that I often ponder. I find that I am prone to view the future with apprehension for not only myself, but also the people that are around me. When my thoughts wander into the shadow of worry, I have to frequently make myself stop and remember that no matter how much I wade through the anxiety of the unknown, the One who created this world has already written our stories with thorough care and everything that has and will touch our lives has already passed through the hands of God. Our job is to walk through that story with the faithfulness of a child.


Just A Simple Blog

   Hello and welcome to my little corner of the internet! I'm not sure how you've found it here, but thank you for joining me.
   My name is Bradley Branson, but my friends mostly call me Brad. There are, however, those few confusing friends that, in referring to me, fluctuate between Bradley and Brad, the reason for which I am still not clear on. Perhaps it's the time of day, the setting of where our meeting took place, if they have had their coffee yet... maybe the phase of the moon? Anyway, I do not have a particular favorite of which to be called, as long as it stays within the obvious parameter of my name.
   My expectations for this little blog are not grand, other than it will be a simple space for me to write and post what I find truly inspiring. And how I intend to convey this is through the photographs I create. 
   It is true that my photographic pursuit has grown and become something I am very fond of, but it is merely the art form I feel that I can best present what is truly most important to me, storytelling.  When it all comes down to it, I am above all else, a storyteller. And what absolutely compels me the most to create are the abundant virtues and truths revealed in the Bible, as well as the small part I live in the greatest story, this life, written by the author who orchestras all, EL-OLAM- Everlasting God.
   All this to say, life and personal work will be documented here, in my little corner of the wide wide web.