Dad - Solid, Confident
Here is my Dad. He is a photographer and so he is the one who is always taking the pictures. He always claims that he is never in any of them. I have oodles of pictures of the photographer and I am going to prove him wrong. His pictures are better than mine, (as you will see in some that he actually took in this series) but I will do my best to do a photoessay on my Dad. He usually is the one who does photoessays on all the pictures he takes, but now it is my turn to do a photo essay on why I love my Dad. He is amazing.
He appreciates beauty in all its forms. One thing that my Dad taught me at an early age is to appreciate beautiful things in nature. He used to take me and the boys out with binoculars and a book from national geographic that had every bird that ever existed. So we would spot one, and then we would look it up and memorize the name of it. I loved that. I am grateful for a Dad who teaches me to have fun learning and appreciating nature and beauty. As a photographer, he naturally showed his respect and reverence for beauty in God's creations. I remember one time as we were traveling on I-15 when I was a youngster, we saw a huge light in the distance as if it were a curtain of fire being shaken by some huge man in the sky. It was an anomaly. An Aurora Borealis happening further south than normal. They are called "The Northern Lights" for a reason. Dad stopped the car and we all got out and stared in awe until the heavenly light show stopped. This particular photo is at Cascade Lake in Northern ID and it reminded me of that experience.
My Dad also loves to have fun and to keep traditions going in the family. He always makes it fun to be with him and to be with the family. Here we are making the dough for our ginger bread houses.
One Expression for a Thousand Words WithinHere he is on the steps leading up St. Peter at Gallicantu. He has a deep respect for things that are spiritual and sacred. These steps are original and very good candidates for being ones that the Savior Himself walked up.
Here he is showing reverence and respect for a very holy site for 3 religions. He has that look on his face. That look that says - "My heart is full of thousands of words to say about this ground, but I cannot say it at this time in this current situation." I know what he is thinking inside. He is showing respect for Islam, because of the present stewardship of this ground, but deep inside he is amazed that he is standing on the holy temple mount - the place where history began to write itself. In legend, this is the very center of everything, for from this very spot the first dry land appeared out of the waters of the creation and the gods stood from this spot and began to organize. It is the very place where Abraham came from Bethel to sacrifice Isaac, the place where two temples stood, where the very ark of the covenant was placed, where Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Lehi, Nephi, David, Solomon, and even the Savior Jesus the Christ Himself came here to teach, heal and commune with His Father. This was all in his heart though he did not say it with his mouth. I have seen him with this look in many places sacred like this. From the Sacred Grove, to Gettysburg to Gethsemane. He hungers and thirsts after righteousness and has therefore been filled.
A Deep Brotherhood
My Dad has such a knack for talking to anyone anywhere as if he were a part of their family. And that is something that I have learned from my Dad - everyone is a part of our family. He truly believes this and shows it by talking to everyone as if they were his brother. He shows his love, and they assume the love and reciprocate, and miracles often happen. This is the Western Wall. The holiest site in the world for all Jews. You would think that because you are a Mormon in a site that is so holy to all of Judaism, a person would just sit back and let the Jews alone. But my Dad got out of his comfort zone to show his love and respect. He even offered this man to take his picture at this holy place and email it to him later for free. What a generous offering from a professional photographer.
World Class Shooter
My Dad travels the world to capture light and life. He is an amazing photographer and he takes his job seriously. He has a gift for capturing light and life in the face of those he shoots. He has shot a lot of people. Any any other house, it would be really odd if your dad told you he was going on a week trip to shoot the prophet, but for me, it is just normal. He has shot many prophets and the shots are world class. (this is a picture of him shooting from the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem).
Good Sport and Goober
My Dad is the most playful goofball jokester you ever knew. From Willie to what have been come to know as "Dad jokes" he is a class act goober. He knows when to be serious and of a sober mind and he knows when it's time to loosen the bow and laugh. He works hard and then he plays hard.
My Dad has been there in all the turning point moments in my life. He was there when I was born, to give me a blessing from a distance that allowed me to stay on this earth instead of suffocating as my little body turned purple and blue after I was born. He was there and worthy for my baptism and confirmation.
He was there to ordain me to the office of Deacon, Teacher, Priest and Elder. He was there to help me with my Eagle project. He was there with his telephoto lens at my track meets. He was there when I graduated from high school and college. He was there when I went to the temple to be endowed from power from on high for myself. He was there as I left for the mission. He was there when I returned. He even came to Jerusalem to be there as I immersed myself in some of the most life changing experiences I have ever had.
I would like to share one experience I had that is probably the best surprise I have ever received. When I got to Jerusalem He was there for the first time I experienced going to the Western Wall, (which in itself is a sacred experience.) I didn't know he would be there. I did feel a power there that I wished I could share with someone who shared their priesthood lineage with me. And though there were many other great guys (who were priesthood holders) there with me, I just felt things in my heart that I didn't think I could share with anyone who I didn't have a deeply personal relationship with. As these thoughts went through my mind, I started to go toward the place where you can put on the courtesy Kippa (as you see on our heads below). When I looked toward that area, I saw a face that looked a lot like my Dad. It WAS my Dad!! I couldn't believe it! It was amazing to share that with him. Every time after that during my time in Jerusalem, when I went to that incredibly significant and historic and sacred place, I always thought of when he (and my Mom) came and surprised me and my sister. It was the perfect surprise at the perfect moment and he sacrificed much to make it happen.
As I shared above, my Dad is always there to make special moments last forever. He has done this countless times in my life. The next few photos don't really have my Dad in them, but I wanted to show off my Dad's amazing photography skills along with showing how cool he is. There is an event that happens in Philadelphia every year at the University of Pennsylvania (and has for 116 years).
It is called the Penn Relay Carnival. For anyone who loves track, it is a spectacular event. Track athletes from middle school, high school and college come to compete with their relay team. At the end there is an amazing display as they have a few relays that are run by Olympic athletes - the fastest in the world. They call the event "USA vs. The World". The year that I went with my high school team, the man of the hour was Maurice Greene.
He was (at the time, the fastest man in the world). I was so excited just to be able to see him from the stands. But my Dad wanted to make it an awesome experience, so he went to all the lengths to use his Meridian Magazine power to get ahold of a press pass that would allow him to stand very close to the Olympians. I told him if he was going to stand anywhere, it should be at the anchor leg position. So he did. And you can see the amazing shots he got of this short, yet blazingly fast man. My Dad is so cool, he is the man.
Here he is at the John Johnson Home in Ohio (near Kirtland). He is standing on the steps where Joseph Smith stood to preach the day after he was torn from his bed, stripped, tarred and feathered and left for dead. The mobsters yelling out: "you won't be preaching tomorrow!" (or something similar). The next morning he did preach, about Charity, the pure love of Christ. And some of the members of the mob were in the crowd, listening to him. An amazing story that my Dad can tell better than I think anyone else. He is, in my eyes, the world's expert on the prophet Joseph Smith. He is the exact build and height of Joseph. He even has a chip in his front tooth (as Joseph did). I love my Dad's love for the prophet. He makes me want to get to know him better. I have come to know the life of the prophet Joseph better because I am my Dad's son.
This last picture is probably my favorite picture that I have of my Dad. I know there is a man holding a walkie talkie on the right (maybe I'll photoshop him out later). Despite the imperfection of the photo, I love it. I love that it is at the Susquehanna River, in the spot where the Holy Priesthood was restored. And the reason why my Dad is holding his hand up the way he is, is because he is declaring his priesthood line of ordination. He has it memorized (down to the day of every single ordination). From him, to his father, to others back to the three witnesses, to John the Baptist/Peter, James and John, who received the priesthood under the hand of Jesus Christ Himself. What an amazing moment this was for me. What an amazing example my Dad has always been. I love his passion for all things Spiritual. The prophet Joseph Said: "The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 137.)
My Dad has taken the time and spent countless hours in ponderous and solemn thought. I love him for this and I will always look up to the example he has given to me. I love my Dad. I love his love the Lord and it will have a lasting impact not only on me, but on my posterity for generations to come.