The Blue Distance

Into the farthest place.

Life in a cartoon. Any choice that I made that turned out good was a lucky guess. Well. That sounds terrible. I have to be honest, I almost feel like retiring from the photo business. And, from the art of it.

I was scrolling through Facebook when I came to a local NPR post. Gwen Tompkins is going interview local photographer who won the Michael Smith Award. That’s a big deal around here. He’s had more shows than many people who seek them out. I say this without jealously, he’s a terrible photographer. His work is marginal at best.

I’ve applied to that contest. Nothing. Crickets. If not me, I can tell you about ten photographers are more worthy than this guy.

I don’t get it.

I really don’t understand why my time in New Orleans has been so unacknowledged while I thought that I was being very productive. Maybe my work isn’t what I thought it is.

That’s a hard pill to swallow.

I suppose that I can accept that, especially since my early career was so good. I spit out good pictures without thinking about it. The awards came too. They don’t really matter, but everyone needs a pat on the head once in a while.

It’s time to come to a reckoning. I make pictures pretty easily. It’s all the other stuff that is time consuming and hard work.

Maybe I don’t want to work that hard anymore.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Look after each other. Enjoy every photograph because you never know when they will come to an end.

This picture is supposed to be my art. For sure, this is something that I enjoy.


My heart isn’t t this stuff. I photograph and tinker with it because right now there is nothing better to do.

I could blame it on the virus. I could blame it on the dogs who demanded walks. I could blame it on my broken physical state.

Or, I could accept that this is about the only kind work I can produce these days.

I dunno. This is just see it, photograph it. I am a photojournalist at heart. That’s what I was trained to do. That’s what I did.

I’m not really whining. I’m just thinking out loud. I had a great career once. I had fun. Time passes by.

Oh yeah. Three layered pictures to make one. The spooky tree is the base. The orange blood-like splotch is the second image. The red grass like area on the left is the last and it is really red grass. Don’t ask.

The rest is all tinkering. Eventually the layered pictures come to a place where I like it.



18 responses to “The Blue Distance”

  1. The Blue Distance — STORYTELLER - Avatar

    […] The Blue Distance — STORYTELLER […]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Helen Flanagan-Sullivan Avatar

    Don’t stop, keep going, tell the dogs I said hello 🙂


  3. sloppy buddhist Avatar

    …I received several ‘reject’…I thought about Sean Tuckers piece on creativity…I did a online workshop with freeman Patterson this week…anyways I’ve always loved blue…close up too. Cheers Ray 💫💙🙋‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ray Laskowitz Avatar

      I don’t know who any of those people are. I don’t even get rejection letters..


  4. Penny Speaker Avatar
    Penny Speaker

    I like this picture, Ray. It seems to fit the current times-dark and a bit somber. I think we’re all feeling the effects of a long year of trauma and isolation. 2021 is not likely to be immediately better, but I’ve hopes for the second half of the year. Keep on creating. I’m fond of you and your work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ray Laskowitz Avatar

      I’m already toasting 2022 for what 2021 has shown. Thank you. Very kind words. The feeling is mutual. After this is manageable, it’s time for a visit. It’s been way too long.


  5. Debra Avatar

    It’s got to be very frustrating, Ray. I so often question how awards are designated. I was in university academia for years and I saw people published and awarded accolades all the time that just didn’t add up, where others were overlooked after outstanding effort and at times garnering praise outside the institution.. Your work is strong and your Mardi Gras photos, in particular, captivating. It’s a very uneven world, that’s a fact!


  6. Eudora Watson Avatar

    I’ve been checking out your posts for awhile. I’m a writer, but our worlds are very similar: many literary agents now post a notice that writers shouldn’t expect any reply at all to inquiries; I read the latest celebrated debut novel and am startled by how clunky the writing, pacing, and characterization are . . . ” So, I get it. That said, first, if you are looking for external praise – well, you do have 8000 followers – which, I take it, are votes in favor of seeing more of your photographs. Second, I notice that in this post you say “I spit out good pictures without thinking about it.” No wonder you’re bored/discontent.
    Define “good.” Do you mean “good enough” ? Maybe early effort in any craft offers the reward of very evident progress. We can feel it when we take a big step. But moving up, the increments between levels of craft get smaller, aren’t as rewarding. Maybe they aren’t even all that obvious as existing. Are you thinking you’ve reached the pinnacle of your craft – whatever that might be for you?
    Perhaps sloppy buddhist pointed to a path that could help you re-engage your brain and heart -check out the s.b. mentions, look for a workshop to take. Go to humble mind, offer your craft the chance to expand – 8,000 people have told you that it’s worth the effort.


    1. Ray Laskowitz Avatar

      Gatekeepers of all genre have been saying sting like that for a long time. I think it started during the recession of 2008. Many people who lost their jobs decided to be creative. The floodgates were open.

      My 8000 followers. Don’t let that number foo you. Their are a lot of ghosts. About three times a year I get a ton of followers. Most are Indian. They have no contact information and they don’t produce anything.I guess they are taking a class and Storyteller is mostly about pictures so they pick it.

      These days good is good enough or fast enough. I’ve been doing this for a long, long time. I came from black and white wet darkrooms, through color slide film to the digital world. I’ve worked for a number of newspapers and wire services. I’ve worked for magazine and agencies. Most of those venues don’t even exist anymore.

      Unless I change my way of seeing into some more kind of artistic version of myself, my pinnacle is reached. There are a number of photographers who teach really good looking workshops via Instagram. For me, the problem with fine art as they define it is that it is derivative.

      Hedy (Sloppy Buddhist) and I have been online friends for a long time. She is the one to watch. She has grown from a documentary photographer to a very good artist. I have a picture of her’s that needs to be printed. It is as good as I’ve seen in years.

      I’ll look into workshops. But, as a good friend of mine says, sometimes when a thing is done, it’s done. And, it’s time to move on.


    2. Ray Laskowitz Avatar

      One more thing. What is s.b. mentions? I googled it since I have no idea what you mean and came up with a thrash metal band.


      1. Eudora Watson Avatar

        Argh, I didn’t see this till just now! s.b – just short for sloppy buddhist, and I must have been talking about the ideas she mentions – sorry to be obscure! : )

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ray Laskowitz Avatar

        Ha, ha, ha… I can be obscure.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Judi Castille Avatar

    Photo competitions are spoiled by behind the scenes backhanders and ego massages. The same ones win multi times. I have had judges argue over two of my photos…one dismissing and another actually taking it home to work it up on software to check my focus! It’s like exam markers…how they feel on the day or if they have had their own bad photo day. There us no logic. I have seen dreadful winners and it just dilutes the pleasure. That’s why today with online you can go it alone and leave the old establishment to pay their own backs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ray Laskowitz Avatar

      Online contests are terrible. They are a way for the contest owners to put money in their bank account. Going it alone still takes a community of like minded people who appreciate your work. As far as focus goes, a very wise professor used to say that sometimes your best picture isn’t your sharpest picture.


      1. Judi Castille Avatar

        I agree. I am finding perfection isn’t. The spontaneous and slightly imperfect has more life. At last running towards warmer months so hoping to get out more. Van needs renovating but I have all the materials now. Plus I finally know what I want to craft and paint. Took four years to decide though!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ray Laskowitz Avatar

        In Zen imperfection is called Wabi Sabi. That’s why I like old stuff better. It’s about living. Are you going to do the mechanicals on the van too?


      3. Judi Castille Avatar

        No the van itself is a work horse and fine. Bit like driving a bag of potatoes, it sort of juggles merrily along. It’s still going to be a van as too many expensive hoops to jump through uf you convert to a campa. Me I am simply decorating, bolting my bunk beds onto a wood floor and hanging my containers for plates etc from the body work. I have tables and chairs and a kitchenette unit. In an hour I can strip it all out. I wanted flexibility to be able to like my brocante finds and an electric bike in there. The bed is fo my head. I cant do more than 2 hours travelling and if I am on a day photographing, I probably cant get home without a migraine, so camping overnight seemed sensible and fun. Also practising for the end of the world…driving off into the burning sunset!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ray Laskowitz Avatar

        We just bought an MBZ Sprinter RV at a very good price. Two years old. It had less than 3,000 miles on it. We are mostly going to use it to commute between states safely during the virus days. We’d rather fly, but I don’t feel safe.


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