Sunday, December 12, 2010

Show & Tell, Version 4.01

"Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger." (Franklin P. Jones)

Just this morning, I overheard part of a speaker-phone conversation between my wife and a dear friend. She was explaining to Tracy that, "John reminds me a lot of my son. They're really not strange, but they do have a funny view of the world."

These days, that amounts to a compliment in my book. No doubt, my odd angle on the world gets knocked a little off-balance by some of the funny people I meet in this business. But which came first? I think the two feed off each other. Maybe that explains why I enjoy their slightly off-kilter questions and comments more than I probably should.

Once again for 2010, we present some of the things people said in our booth during the past summer and fall. Enjoy...


"My brother is a really good photographer -- nothing like you."  Um, thank you.

"You drew it with crayons?"
"Do you teach?"  I like to mentor young photographers, I answer. "What about a couple of dumb adults?"  Perfect!

"You take these pictures yourself?"  I do. "That must be a fun hobby."  Yep, you have no idea how much fun I'm having right now.

"Do you have any portraits? You have such a unique way with animals, I want to see what you do with people."  I repeat, I am not responsible for the ban on experimenting with live humans.

"This is the best 'biology degree at work' I've ever seen."  Why, thank you. Would you like fries with that?

"Man, I'd be happy if that was the
only picture I took my whole life."
"I'm a photographer, too. You're good. I like the way your mind works."  It works, it just refuses to stick to anything resembling a schedule.

"Now when my kids come visit, they ask me, 'Did you get any new John Ashleys?'"  Shhhhh.  Don't give my wife any ideas.

"Wow. Yours is the first photography booth at this show that doesn't look just like all the others. What do they do, go to art-dot-com and print off the same images?"  Couldn't have said it better myself.


"That's what I love about Montana -- it's like driving into a photograph everywhere you go. It's not like Oregon, Oregon is gross."  I'll have to disagree -- I like Oregon. Go Ducks!

"That's weird. Did you do that underwater?"
"Do these come from photographs?"  Why yes, and that's where they end up, too.

"So, do you have a pelican yet?"  He asks me the same question every time, year after year. Sort of like "Groundhog Day" meets "Waiting for Gudot." Apparently, I'm really just a working class rodent stuck in this absurdest play.

"What are these? Are they photos, or are they art?"  Hmmm. I guess that you'd be the judge of that.

"How does your mind think of these things? I don't get it"  [Many Moons Ago].  I'm a professional. Don't try this thinking stuff at home.

"How does your mind think of these things?"
 "This is my favorite booth!" he exclaims, then whispers, "in the whole show!"  I'm a little hard of hearing. Can you repeat that a little louder, and face the crowd when you speak?

"Did you just die when you took some of these?"  Give me a minute. Let's see. Hmmm. No. No, I think I survived. Yes. YES! I SURVIVED! (Free tip: theatrics works well in certain retail settings. Other times, not so much.)

"Boy, the photographers just keep getting better and better every booth." Okay, no need to go any farther now.

"There's a lot of nature photographers here, but your's is a step above."  So, can I hire you to handle publicity?


"Where'd you get that volcano?"
 "Where'd you get that volcano? Is that Iceland?" Actually, that's the milky way, as seen from Montana. But they have a similar one in Iceland.

"It's a lot of work to paint something like that."  Yes, I guess it would be. And these photographs were a lot of work, too.

"Did you really see this?"  Well, technically speaking, the viewfinder went black for 1/500th of a second just at the peak moment. It's so frustrating... [Eagle Talons]

"Is that moon really there?"  Yes it is, and they really landed on it, too, but some grumpy people just don't want to believe anything these days.

"I'm so glad you showed me that [three nights of 'Huckleberry Moon"]. I called, 'Bullshit,' when I first saw the photo. I was sure it was done with photoshop."  And I'm so glad you're no longer grumpy. Happy to help.


"I don't care how depressed you are. Looking at that photo [Peaceful Lamb] would have to make you smile."  Mission accomplished.

"You combined your creative eye
with your heart.  I love that!"
"That's a handsome Raven. They usually look like buzzards."

"From a distance that looks like a unicorn" [Dancer, top photo].  Yeh, that's what they look like when they shed their horn in winter. I'm a biologist by training, ya' know. Want me to check your vision?

"That is so cute! I love it!"  So there's cute, and then there's beyond cute?

"You've got it! You capture that moment that we all want to stare at." Yeh, just don't inquire about my thousands of outtakes...

"John, you must be a man of immense patience, because without it you'd never get these."  I get this comment a lot from people who have tried to photograph wild animals...


"I thought it was
some kind of eyeball."
"Did you really catch them jumping out of the tree?"  she asked. I replied, "Well to be perfectly honest with you, I photographed them jumping out of the tree [Leap of Faith], but I just let 'em hit the ground." (Tracy was out of the booth at the time.)

"This will be perfect for my clients."  One of several customers who turn out to be psychiatrists...

"I can't even wrap my head around that picture"  [Many Moons Ago].  Do you recognize that guy that just left?

"Your work is just beautiful. I wish I was rich,"  she tells me. I'm ready for this one. "Here's my card. Let us know when you win the lottery."
And finally, the most insightful question I heard this fall. "Do you feel like you're on display?"

Why yes, yes I do. Especially when I'm not talking. But it's almost Winter Solstice, and now this display is temporarily off duty until spring. I need to lug a camera and tripod around in the desert moonlight to get my head screwed on sideways again.

Happy holidays, all.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it great? Have safe journeys and lots of fun..while we are here moving all this snow... :)