Category Archives: Personal Perspective

Capturing the Moment \ Christie Pepper / Part 2

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Christie Pepper Photography©

http://christiepepperphotography.smugmug.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ChristiePepperPhotography

Welcome back to the second half of my interview with Christie Pepper. In addition to having first met Christie while working at the same Sheriff’s Office, she’s a trusted honest eye for my upcoming crime thriller and current A Cajun Murder Mystery Series.

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I’m excited to continue this conversation with Christie because one answer blew me away. I’ve asked this same question to others, and yet her reply was so unique, I’ve thought about nothing since. You’ll know it when you read it.

Scott – Getting right to it, what do you enjoy most about photographing south Louisiana?

Christie – South Louisiana is absolutely beautiful. As a child, I had huge dreams and couldn’t wait to become a powerful successful woman, move away to a big city, and live in a loft apartment overlooking the hectic streets and bright lights.

Today, I look back and laugh. I never appreciated the true beauty and history that surrounds us. The prominent old oaks, perfect cypress trees, elegant “gro-beck” cranes, vicious gators and other wildlife should be appreciated.

In today’s time, everyone is busy, life is frantic at times and we all have to work just make ends meet, but we also have to take some time to sit back and appreciate what God has surrounded us with.

Just driving down Hwy 308, we can see old plantation homes, wildlife, vibrant plants and trees, but how many of us truly notice it?

We all have a destination in mind and get there as fast as we can, foregoing any admiration and gratitude for what physically encompasses us. For those who can’t see these images, I hope that my captures bring the beauty to them.

Scott – I know it’s cliché, but it fascinates me – If you could photograph anyone from any period of time – who would it be? Why, and how would you set the shot?

Christie – That’s an easy one, I would love to be able to photograph my mom with my children. She passed away when my youngest was only two years old. He wasn’t even speaking yet.

I know that she would be very proud of all of grandchildren and I try to keep her memory and spirit alive by speaking of her often. I don’t necessarily think I’d want a posed picture though.

I’d love to just capture some candid shots of her and my children enjoying each other, laughing, playing, and any other things that were taken from them when she was called home.

She loved New Orleans and would spend time in the French Market and Riverwalk every chance she had so it would definitely have to be shot somewhere in that area.

Scott – Lots of smart phone picture snappers to professional enthusiasts out there. What wisdom would you share with aspiring artists?

Christie – Capture everything that you see is beautiful. The way you see something is truly different from the way others see things. The one statement that I hear over and over is “you have the eye for beauty”.

I have taken pictures of light fixtures, buildings, and natural habitats that people see on a daily basis, but have been told “I have never seen it that way before.”  Don’t ever give up on anything that means something to you.

Art is always open to interpretation, something that may be beautiful to one, may not be to another. It is your way of expressing your views and emotions to others without words. Also when taking portraits, the venue should be the choice of the person being photographed.

I like to get to know the people I am photographing before doing it, in an effort to bring out their personality and charm. I’m not a huge fan of over editing faces, everyone’s natural beauty deserves to come through. This of course is just my opinion, and I have found that my clients feel the same; editing is always discussed before anything is done to photos.

Christie – thank you again for gracing us with you passion and talent. Stay safe on the job and best of success capturing the moment.

Stop by Christie Pepper’s Facebook page and hit the LIKE button. You’ll be glad you did.

Making the Picture Count \ Christie Pepper / Part 1

Capturing the Moment \ Christie Pepper / Part 2

 

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B&W – What’s it good for? | Shannon Atkinson

Shannon Atkinson Photographer

Fortunate to live in south Louisiana’s Cajun Country, I’ve come to know many amazing people from every walk of life. A long time cycling friend and all-around Renaissance man, Shannon Atkinson is one of those people.

I was captivated by his photography during this year’s Mardi Gras. Growing up with the annual carnivals, I’d seen the sights and images over a lifetime. His eye-view and imagery exposed a side of the season I’d never known—or imagined.

My crime fiction episodes, A Cajun Murder Mystery Series are set in the deep South’s bayou land. Shannon’s art captures the raw, gritty genre of the classic noir mystery thrillers. It was a perfect match.

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A giant big bayou favor – go to Shannon’s Facebook and mash the LIKE button.

Scott: Shannon, thanks for your time. How about sharing a bit about yourself?

Shannon: I’m Shannon Atkinson, and a Louisiana based photographer focusing primarily on concert and street photography. I’ve photographed live promotional images for artists including Plain White T’s, Percy Sledge, Louis Prima Jr., and Marco Palos in addition to other international acts.

My work has been published in regional magazines and websites as well as Yahoo Sports. Although I continue to develop a diverse catalog, my true passion is street photography, “I have always gravitated to Environmental Portraiture. It is not uncommon for me to shoot other genres, but the streets are where I feel most at home with a camera in my hands.”

I’ve photographed throughout the United States as well as Central America. Currently, I’m working on a photographic series documenting the decline of Louisiana’s indigenous population and loss of culture. My work can be viewed at  www.shannonatkinsonphoto.com

Scott: Your passion is obvious in your art. What ignited your flame for photography?

Shannon: My dad was the family photographer when I was a kid.  He had this wonderful, shiny, 35mm that I used to secretly sneak out of the house and experiment with when he was away on business.

Eventually he gave in and allowed me to borrow it when I wanted.  I fell in love with the ability to take a subject and capture it in a way unique to my vision.  I’m still in love with this.

 

Scott: I love the black and white urban-scape photography featured on each A Cajun Murder Mystery Series’ cover art – what drove you to focus on that motif?

Shannon: Black and white resonates with me, it has soul.   I started in the days of film and spent a lot of time in the dark room working in B&W.  Removing color from the image allows me to focus on shadow and form which is what I’m very much drawn to.

I do shoot color, but the color has to be a major part of the reason I’m making the photograph in the first place.  As for the Street photography genre, I’ve always been an observer of people.  Human beings are bizarre and interesting creatures… especially when they have no idea they are being observed.

Some people give off a certain something that can’t be put into words.  I’m drawn to these people and interested in seeing how this translates into a photograph.  The same goes for certain places, they just have soul.

Scott: Kinda of cliché, but I’ll go for it. If you could photograph anyone from any period of time – who would it be? Why, and how would you set the shot?

Shannon: This is a tough one.  The tendency is to choose someone that would be a bit obvious.  I could pick JFK or Marilyn Monroe or maybe Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Theresa.

The problem with these choices, although tremendous subjects, is that they are not that personal to me.  So if I have to choose a subject just for me, then it’s simple… I’d choose jazz great Miles Davis.  From the late 1950’s, the Kinda Blue era.

He had an ultra-cool vibe that I’d love to explore and capture.  I’m thinking in a dark jazz club with a cigarette and lots of backlit cigarette smoke.  Real harsh and grainy with lots of his coolness.

Scott: Miles Davis sounds a lot like you. You’re also an excellent musician and cyclist – what other acts of awesomeness do you regularly demonstrate? 

Shannon: I involuntarily wake up 1 minute before my alarm goes off… every day.  Other than that, I’ve got nothing.

Another chance to do yourself a favor – go to Shannon’s Facebook – mash the LIKE button. 

B&W – What’s it good for? | Shannon Atkinson

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BIG News & Thank Yous

A Cajun Murder Mystery Series – By the Numbers just launched its first “0.99” monthly episode in June.

By-the-Numbers-Scene-1.jpgResearch for this series only requires walking out the front door and into the unique and mysterious flavors of south Louisiana.

Part of the culture includes local photographers / artists whose work I’ve admired and shared with friends across the planet.

 

They’ve been gracious to allow the inclusion of their work into every episode of the Cajun Murder Mystery Series with scheduled releases the first Thursday of each month. Check out their sites and share the love.

Big Bayou Thanks:

Cajun Captures Photography 

       

 

 

 

 

 

Shannon Atkinson Photographer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thank your Dad

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June 14, 2014 · 05:01

Put that down

According to this disturbing infographic, that’s exactly what we’re doing with books – putting them down. Unfortunately, we aren’t even finishing the read through. Take advantage of the summer, and read all the way through.

Make a summer reading list for yourself like we did as kids. What are you reading? See ya on the last page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inkslingers Ball | Sheila Lowe

“Inkslingers Ball” reviewed

NOTE: I had the honor of working as part of her writer’s work group to assist with technical law enforcement issues. I’m so proud to see it come to life. Congratulations Sheila Lowe.

 

INKSLINGERS BALL, Sheila Lowe’s fifth Forensic Handwriting Mystery, grabs your attention from the opening scene. The phone rings at 2:33 a.m., and Joel Jovanic, Lead Homicide Detective with the LAPD, must leave girlfriend Claudia Rose’s warm bed to investigate a chilling crime; the brutal death of a young teenage girl. You can sense his horror and determination to solve “this one” and you are right there beside him.

Flashing back three days, Lowe meticulously leads her readers through a labyrinth of events to the gruesome discovery, beginning innocently enough with the introduction of a character from a previous novel. Annabelle Giordana, a traumatized teen which Claudia helped through graphology in WRITTEN IN BLOOD, is now living temporarily with Claudia. Much improved, she still has remnants of rebellion that work their way to the surface now and then. They’re usually harmless – pouting or sulking when she doesn’t get her way – but this time, Annabelle gets in way over her head.

She meets up with a young street walker from her past. Angel – pierced, tattooed, and spouting gutter language – soon has Annabelle straying from the straight and narrow, enticing the underage girl to get a “sugar skull” tattoo just like hers. Annabelle succumbs. Soon she is boozed up, laid out in an old van with a strange man laying ink in a very private area, and totally unaware of the dark alley Angel has started her down. It’s an alley full of death and darkness with fingers reaching way into the past.

Several seemingly unrelated murders keep Jovanic’s team busy leading up to and beyond the opening crime. They investigate, interview, access police data bases, and soon connections appear. In the world of ink and piercing, it’s hard to tell what is innocent and what is deadly. Artistic ink covers jealous and vengeful hearts. It also hides a multitude of other crimes that the police seem powerless to stop.

The final climax is shocking. Readers may be prepared for something similar, but when this scene takes place, jaws will drop.  The reverberations and mop-up will eventually bring satisfaction, although one small aspect may be open for question to some legal purists. INKSLINGERS BALL is definitely an outstanding addition to the series.

Lowe has departed from her usual single person POV in this novel. Forensic handwriting specialist, Claudia Rose, is very much a presence in INKSLINGERS BALL, working on her own assignments, teaching Annabelle (and readers) about the marvels of handwriting analysis, and assisting Det. Jovanic with his cases. It’s intriguing to see the different ways her profession (as well as the author’s) can be used to help law enforcement. But Annabelle and Jovanic get their own “say” as well.

And happily, Lowe has mastered the lingo of both the 15-year-old girl and the hardened cop. Their respective conversations are credible, and true to the ear. With Jovanic, readers are brought right into the police station and the patrol car. Crime scene protocol and technology are explained smoothly in both dialogue and description, making this book “almost” a police procedural.

With Annabelle and her trash-talking friends, the reader never feels he’s being patronized. The well-thought-out choices of words, attitudes and actions won’t age, even after the book has been out a while. It’s a tough task to accomplish, but here, very handily done.

The rest of Lowe’s writing is immaculate. She keeps the story moving quickly, building tension steadily with cliff hangers that don’t leave readers hanging too long, and evidence that appears in good time and is not held for chapters to sustain a false suspense.  Her descriptions are concise but evocative; she never wastes words.  Some readers may not like the instances of profanity, but it is not gratuitous and fits the characters’ personas. On the whole, INKSLINGERS BALL is a very enjoyable read.

INKSLINGERS BALL (as well as Sheila Lowe’s other Forensic Handwriting Mysteries) are available on Kindle and in print at Amazon.com.

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Like Claudia Rose, Sheila Lowe is a court-qualified handwriting expert who testifies in forensic cases. The author of “Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous,” and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis,” her analyses of celebrity handwritings have appeared in Time, Teen People, and Mademoiselle. Her articles on Personality Profiling and Handwriting Analysis for the Attorney have been published in several bar association magazines. Her award-winning Handwriting Analyzer software is used around the world and her profiles help uncover important information in background checks and pre-employment screening. She enjoys analyzing handwriting for individuals, too, helping them understand themselves and others better.

For more information on Sheila, please visit her personal website http://www.sheilalowe.com .

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Remembering D-Day | The Greatest Generation

DAYTON, Ohio (Army News Service, June 2, 2014) — Veteran paratrooper Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, who jumped into Normandy on D-Day, is returning to coastal France to mark the 70th anniversary of the invasion that changed the course of World War II.

Martin, who spoke in an interview ahead of the anniversary, remembers looking out in the night sky before making the historic jump.

“When we made our initial jump into France, there were a few cirrus clouds up above, just enough so you still saw shadows down below,” he said recently at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force here.

“It was just unbelievable to see as many ships as there were down there,” he said.

Martin said he hopes to leap from the skies again during the anniversary.

“I truly would want to do that one, because there’s no other 93-year-old guy in the unit who can do it but me,” he said. Martin was a private first class with the elite 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.

Martin said he and his unit were known as the “Toccoa Men,” because they attended basic training at Camp Toccoa, Ga. They were trained alongside Easy Company of the 506th, later depicted in the “Band of Brothers” series. Martin said he was aware then that they were part of something big.

“We knew that the success was going to hinge on us. We were absolutely certain of that. Eisenhower was too, that’s why he made the decision to send us in, even though all the others didn’t want to,” Martin said.

Martin said he “never had a doubt about the success of the mission,” but had concern about what the human cost would be.

“I knew it was going to be bad,” he said.

He and his unit were among the first wave of paratroopers to jump into Normandy. They later jumped into Holland in “Operation Market Garden,” were among the defenders of Bastogne, during the Battle of the Bulge, and captured Adolph Hitler’s mountain retreat in Bavaria at the end of the war.

“Going into Normandy, it wasn’t so much scary,” he said. “Now going into Holland, we were different, we had already been there, and we showed more fear, but don’t let anybody tell you that he wasn’t scared going in to any combat, whether it was us or others.”

Men died all around him; the unit endured a lot during the war, Martin said.

It was terrible when his unit landed in Normandy, he said, because German paratrooper and SS troops were right where they landed. “It was a slaughterhouse on that drop zone.”

The plane ride over Normandy was typical, Martin recalled, but the pilots didn’t slow down and make a slight left turn, to protect the Soldiers and the equipment.

“As a consequence, we lost most of our equipment,” he said. Soldiers were also killed making the jump as well.

The unit’s objective was one of the most important ones of the whole operation, Martin said, to capture a pedestrian bridge and a vehicle bridge, both of which were put in a few months prior to let reinforcements down to the beach when forces landed on shore.

“It was paramount we get the bridges, which we did,” he said. But he said the unit lost all of its communication equipment in the jump.

“Division thought we had been wiped out, so they ordered the bridges bombed, and here we are right there at the bridges,” he said.

The danger was present every day as Soldiers were killed around him; he thought each day might be his last. Once you accept you might die, “you’re better off,” and can focus on the mission at hand, Martin said.

“You got to understand that you can’t let the fear control you; you have to do your job regardless of the fear, and we all did it. That’s what we had to do and we did,” he said.

 


Martin would “absolutely” do it all over again.

He enlisted in 1942, at the age of 21. He knew the situation was deteriorating in Europe, and that France and Britain were no match for Germany. Besides, men were being drafted and had to leave their wives and children at home.

“Here I am a young person with no family to worry about and these guys are going away and leaving their families. That did change me,” he said. “I went down, I had a deferment, I didn’t have to go, but I went down and signed up for submarine service.”

Not wanting to wait the months that it would be before the Navy finished the ship it was building that he would be on, he then signed up and shipped off with the Army.

When the Navy came knocking on his mother’s door saying he was a deserter, she showed the men the letters he had written home from the Army, and they reportedly said “‘Well, that’s OK, he’s in, he’s in.'”

Times were certainly different then, he said.

Serving one’s country, he said, is part of the duty of living in a free nation.

“I don’t consider it a sacrifice. A lot of people said it was a sacrifice. It’s not a sacrifice. It’s a duty that you’re obligated to do,” he said. “If you live in a free country, whether you agree with what they do, if you’re called, you should go and do your very best.”

Martin is proud of the men and women who serve the nation today.

What advice does he have for the fighting generation: “Go in there and do the best you can. Be thankful that you have a country that will back you with materiel.”

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