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Sunset for Allison

I wrote this a few years ago and thought I would post it in this forum to share what photography really means to me..Or maybe I’m just re-reading and posting to keep myself reminded what photography should mean to me and what the true rewards are.

Sunset for Allison:

My legs were somewhat sore from a rather ambitiously paced 13 mile run earlier in the day. The couch felt so good as I propped them up and settled to watch the MLB playoffs and curse the Yankees even before the first pitch was thrown. I was in no hurry to go anywhere fast.. The late afternoon is also the favorite time in my house as the low sun glows through the front windows and throws long golden rays of warmth across the wood floor and catching all the glitters from miscellaneous shiny object in its way. It’s the warmest my house is all day from ambient light and the living room is my favorite place to be.

Something though (probably my shutter release finger) kept telling me to keep a watchful eye on the sky as there may be a special sunset due to light cloud cover. I also had some other things on my mind and the beach at night is a good place to see them for what they are worth a little clearer. As the sun sank and the streaks of filtered light crawled deeper in to the dining room I began to get real fidgety. My legs were happily off the ground but the rest of me was unsettled…I said screw it, “it’s only aYankees game” and grabbed my camera and hoped in the car. Besides I knew it would be my last chance to catch the ocean sunset before my trip to the Netherlands the next day.

There are a few places I like to go to shoot pictures of the sunset here in the South Bay, but for some reason, also beyond me I took a drive through a never ending stream of stop lights and signs to get to South Redondo vs the straight shot I had to Manhattan Beach Pier…I also parked up on the ocean side of Catalina Ave. and the only significance there was that just on the other side of the street it was free parking and I would not have needed to dump several quarters in the meter for the time I would need.. For some reason tonight I could not be bothered with the few extra steps even though the shots I wanted were down the long set of stairs and down the beach a way.

The air was clear and there were enough low clouds to give me the colors I look for on the really good nights for shots that are a bit more than special. I was able to corral a few images I liked down below at ocean level and the melted into the horizon. A sailboat even gave me the prototypical sailboat in the sun shot. I decided to head back up top to watch the glow change the colors from a higher perspective and shoot until the light was gone.

After the sky was relegated to the very last whispers of red veins across an otherwise lifeless sky, I began to slowly walk to my car. It was at this time a car pulled up behind me. There was a woman driving and she looked panicked and began to ask me something through a half opened window. She proceeded to park right where I was walking so I stuck my head in the window as I could not hear her, but could see that she was visibly upset. There were no tears, but there was something wrong.

She asked if I had seen the sunset and took pictures of it. She proceeded to tell me how she had tried to get down here on time but just couldn’t make it. I slowed her down and told her I had her covered and that I got a few decent shots. She went onto tell me that I must think she’s really strange and I told her she had no idea who I have in my life already and that strange is a relative term. She half smiled and went on to tell me that her daughter’s favorite thing was the sunset at the beach.

A chill went down my spine as the word “was” the only one that suddenly mattered here.

She proceeded to tell me “today’s her birthday” and she died seven months ago. If there was anyway I could send her a few shots…. I stopped her mid sentence and told her she could have all of them if she wanted and that I’d send them to her before I left for Europe in a low-res format and the hi-res images would be ready for her when I got back on a disk.

She continued to thank me and I had to almost stop her again so I could thank her. However exactly it was I got to this exact spot to be available for her, was truly an honor and the reason life keeps me feeling like there is so much more going on than we know.

Photography has already given me so many gifts back that I can never truly put into words. To be able to help memorialize a person I have never met and help keep Allison’s spirit alive in this way is the truly the pinnacle for me. To whatever degree I make it as a photographer in my life, I am pretty sure the few simple shots I took tonight will be the ones I am most thankful for.

As she drove away, I walked up the car and took one last look at the sky…There was one last streak of orange all alone across the horizon
Call me crazy, but I couldn’t help but wonder….

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It was not the most spectacular sunset I have ever photographed, but it was definitely the most important and special ones to me.

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  • abigcat
    abigcatalmost 4 years ago

    It is strange this thing we call life.

  • Stranger than fiction…And more colorful too…:)

    – Chris Perry

  • mermanda
    mermandaalmost 4 years ago

    What a beautiful story. It really shows the power we all have to affect eachothers lives. I’m so happy you used this power in such a heartfelt, and loving way even to a total stranger :)
    Sounds like you made her day!

  • Maybe, but in the end, she made my day. And to a degree still does when I allow myself to go there..
    Thanks for your thoughts.

    – Chris Perry

  • abigcat
    abigcatalmost 4 years ago

    Yes, colourful…I was initially unable to comment as anything I might have said would have appeared quite trite in the face of this experience of yours. But after doing the weekend dishes I feel better. This is a wonderful example of life not being about ME but about my actions both conscious and unconscious and the result on others and the world around me. I’m so pleased that you are free enough in yourself to follow the unknown. :-))

  • abigcat
    abigcatalmost 4 years ago

    Yes, colourful.. I was initially unable to comment as anything I might have said would have appeared quite trite in the face of this experience of yours. But after doing the dishes from the weekend I feel better. This is a wonderful example of life not being about ME but about my actions, both conscious and unconscious and the effect they may have on others and the world around me. I’m so pleased that you are free enough to follow the unknown :-)) And to share it

  • Your words never appear trite to me. Not even close.
    .But you are so right about life not always being about ourselves. Our actions can have a profound effect on anyone at any time and this was a humble reminder of that..

    – Chris Perry

  • Carol Walker
    Carol Walkeralmost 4 years ago

    Very touching!!!! Beautiful story and photos!

  • Thank you Carol….:)

    – Chris Perry

  • Pat Moore
    Pat Moorealmost 4 years ago

    OMG Chris this was so beautiful, sent chills down my spine just reading it. Good job!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Aww, thank you Pat…Really appreciate such kind words..

    – Chris Perry

  • Rhonda F.  Taylor
    Rhonda F. Taylorover 3 years ago

    Oh Wow Chris, you have me in tears at this beautiful story, the shot of the lone bird against such an awesome sky is brilliant but the story behind it so special…what a gift. I believe things happen for a reason, I think on this night you found the reason for your restlessness and need to get that shot.
    Rhonda :)

  • So sorry Rhonda I am just now seeing this comment from you..Sometimes these smell right past me..It truly was a gift, for me mostly..:)
    Thank you!!!

    – Chris Perry

  • LindaR
    LindaRover 3 years ago

    this moves me deeply ~ my eyes and heart are full in your telling of your story ~ reminds me of encounters I’ve had. moments that cannot be simply explained away and they are gifts, like you note, reminders of connection, of the invisible and greater universal world we live in…and another treasure is your gratitude and appreciation of the gifts photography has given you…and I too am profoundly greatful too. I so relate to that urge to seek the sunset, the light as you describe, the pull…how many dinners have I left to run to the beach? :)
    Thank you for sharing your story, for Allison, for us..and for youself…for me, it’s making my day xx

  • Thank you Linda for such a heart felt response..Life is funny..Every time I begin to doubt so many things that make it all happen, something like this happens and freezes me in my tracks..
    I’m glad I have the ability to recognize the moments, but sometimes I wish I would not have to keep being reminded..But the gifts (these lines) are the ones I believe we keep forever…
    Thanks again…

    – Chris Perry

  • Betty Smith_Voce
    Betty Smith_Voceover 3 years ago

    Chris not only the are pictures absolutely stunning, but your words meld with the magnificent love and energy for waht you do… And yes, you are not crazy… Ask me I know of a bird that sang to me whenever I cried after my husband passed over… Beautiful work all round, I so enjoyed reading this.

  • Thanks so much for that Betty. It’s also good to know I’m not crazy even though sometimes I think the jury is still out on that one..

    So sorry to hear about your husband and I am confident that birds song is sent with a warm message as well…:)

    – Chris Perry

  • Dana Parish
    Dana Parishover 3 years ago

    An owl that you captured led me to your photography and your humble acknowledgment of the compliments, led me to your writing, which in turn, led me to be inspired to write about a chance meeting that I had just today. A lady was lost and found her way to my ranch. She was on her way to the home of her brother who has just lost his son. Your talent just gave me a burst of energy and maybe the ability to tell my story….Your gift is amazing….

  • Isn’t that what this site is all about? It is for me anyway..I cant tell you how many times when in a creative rut I come here simply to look around, or read and be inspired..The true gift comes from the person who has the ability to understand this little secret. You obviously get it, Dana and therefor know in my heart are passing it on to others.
    I love that you described the route in how you got to this little blog of mine because it describes perfectly how many resources we all really have to move ourselves in a positive direction when our eyes and hearts are open to it.
    Since I am not nearly 100% pure humility, the egotistical side of me also thanks you as well :) It is an honor to be able to inspire and your words really made my day..Thank you for taking the time to write them..
    I will look forward to reading your blog..

    – Chris Perry

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