Hug Your Family and Friends

Hug Your Family and Friends

 

It has been a difficult week to say the least.  When I saw the breaking news about the mass shooting in Seal Beach CA, it most certainly caught my attention since I lived there at one time.  Little did I know that I would be directly touched by this awful awful event.  On Wednesday, the day after the shooting I found out that a very dear family friend had been one of the victims.  My Mom was the one that called and told me.  I was stunned, I had no idea what to say to my Mom to make her fell any better, and I had even less clue what I was going to say to Dave’s family.  While we are not related, I consider each of them as close of family as my own family, and all I could do at the moment was to make that dreaded phone call.  It actually went better than I thought it would. Since this happened, I have tried to imagine what his family is going through, I find it impossible and then break down because I can not fix it for them. I have thought about how busy they are now with friends and family and police and, and, and…….. but then what? What can I do to help after all the immediate drama has gone and they are left in their own quiet space.  All I can do is offer myself and be there when I am needed. That next step that will come I see as a black hole, and I pray that they do not get lost there, and that they will soon see the bright sunshine and move forward – never forgetting, but really celebrating that Dave belonged to them, and they to him. What a truly lucky family they have been.

Dave was an amazing guy.  He would help anyone, and was always there when you needed him.  His family was his greatest asset and he knew it. They have a long road of recovery in front of them, but I know Dave will be watching over them, and protecting them.  The world could use a whole lot more like Dave Caouette.

His memorial service was on Monday at Patty’s Place next to the salon where the first seven victims were assassinated. Dave was shot in his car in the parking lot, three rows away from the salon. An avid Land Rover Offroader, Dave made many friends while exploring the state with the Land Rover group Wheels Events that he was a part of.  This group was amazing on the night of the memorial, they filled the parking lot with Land Rovers. It was a beautiful site, and a real tribute to Dave. Black tape across each one’s left headlight was their tribute, very simple, yet very meaningful. I would like to thank them all for all the good times they shared with Dave, and for attending the event on Monday – you guys and gals are awesome!!!

I could go on and on, but I will save you the boredom of my mediocre writing skills and share with you photos from the Memorials outside the Salon Meritage, Dave’s parking spot and some shots of the Land Rovers in attendance.

Please consider making a donation in lieu of flowers to help Dave’s wife, children and grandchildren, I know they would appreciate it.

Dave Caouette Memorial Fund
C/O Long Beach Police Officers Association
2865 Temple Ave.
Signal Hill, Ca. 90755-2212

The Dave Couette Memorial Fund is authorized by the Caouette family and 100% of all proceeds go directly to them.

Please always remember to kiss your family, friends or loved ones when they leave you and never let them forget how much they mean to you.  The old cliché is so very very true, you never know what will happen until you see them again……

I love you Dave!  and the entire Caoutte family.

Anyone Can Make a Difference

Anyone Can Make a Difference

 

Oh sure it is a bit cliché, but it really is true.  I am blessed to do something I truly love and am able to make a living at it. Am I getting rich? depends on how you look at it.  I think I am, but it is certainly not in the monetary way.  My photography has allowed me to immerse myself further into the horse and dog worlds than I ever was before, and along the way I have made some great friends and captured some wonderful moments for people. Yes, my photos have made some people smile, and  they have made some cry.  My images have allowed people to share great triumphs and even share great sadness and I get to be a bit selfish and feel good about it.

What really let me know that I had made a difference was the day I received an email that a rescued Jack Russell Terrier had found his forever home because of a photo I had taken.  The woman who adopted Max said she kept coming back to him because of his photo on the rescue’s website.  I was elated for Max, and once again I got to be a bit selfish and relish the fact that I had made a difference not just in Max’s life but in the life of the woman who adopted him.  Way to go Max!!!

There are many special memories I have that have all stemmed out of giving back through my photography. From donating my time (photos) to rescues, to giving back to the associations that have allowed me to become their photographers, I am eternally grateful and am humbled that I have actually made a difference. Have I solved the debt crisis? created world peace? no but it is ok, I can still make a difference one small photo at a time. What can you do to make a difference?  You may be surprised and humbled by what you can do and how it will make you feel.

 

Busy Busy Busy

Busy Busy Busy

 

Well, The last week has been swamped with shooting, shooting and more shooting! Am I complaining? Not a chance.  I love what I do. And I am so thankful to all my customers who like my work – you are all amazing!!! From barn shoots to horse shows, to just shooting for fun, what better job can there really be? There is still that thing called frustration that shows up sometimes, but the fun/good outweighs the bad. I am so truely blessed with great customers and fans.  The picture with this post is probably one of my favorites from the last week, (with two different edits) and while I wanted to share some of the funny ones I was threatened not too!!!  lol  If you want to see more of my pictures, go check out S. Sylvester Photography on facebook, and become a fan (ok – just “like” the page). Thanks to all my customers, many of whom I now consider friends I could not have done any of this without you.

Kyle and Preston

09/11 Remember and Honor

09/11 Remember and Honor

So it has been ten years since this beautiful country we call America was attacked.  Attacked and shaken to our very core.  I am sure everyone can remember where they were and what they were doing.  But have you remembered and honored what you felt that day?  Has it made a difference in who you are, how you treat people  and what you believe in?  I know it has certainly changed me. I was in a dark place at that point in my life, and then the planes flew into the twin towers, no longer were my problems so horrible, no longer was I so self consumed. I made a very concious decsion to be happy, to live life, and enjoy my friends and family and to be a kinder person to people I do not know. My father and grandfather had given their lives and many other relatives are still giving to keep this country safe. And yet here we were being attacked at our very core. It was not just landmarks that were attacked, but our whole belief system, our  values and  our faith. My heart was heavy with the grief I felt for all those people that we could not keep safe on our own soil.  So has it really changed you? I know it has changed me.

California Adventure #3 The Final Chapter

California Adventure #3 The Final Chapter

 

While California has been busy and fun it is time to go.  Back to the heat and work that is waiting there.  But not before a long walk on the beach in search of beach glass. I love how relaxing it is to stroll along and find little treasures in the sand (and not the kitty kind!).  Once we are back to Natalie’s , she proceeds to make a wonderful breakfast of eggs, home-grown tomatoes and bagels. Friends, a stroll on the beach and homemade breakfast, what better way to start the day.

After repacking the truck with dogs, camera equipment and all the other stuff that came along…… we were on the road.  But there is a nagging feeling I am having as we are driving out of LA.  I need a Broken Horn fix.  Now for those of you who do not know what Broken Horn is, it is the largest tack and saddlery store that I have ever been in (and I have been in lots!!!). So a quick stop to overwhelm Sue is in order – yeah!!!! It was fun browsing around and seeing all the changes since I was last there (they were even expanding!  good for them in this economy!).  But alas, we still need to go back to Phoenix, so back on the road we go.

Now having spent 20+ years in LA, I am way too comfortable with the freeways and the way people there drive, so the fast lane at 75 miles an hour is like taking a leisurely drive.  That is until I hear what sounds like sand hitting the front of my truck.  Hmmm, maybe we should get off the free way and see what is going on.  So I get across 3 of 5 lanes before I loose the a/c, steering and oh yeah the brakes.   lol  I managed to get off at the next off ramp without any wrecks – Whew!  We do not make it all the way off the ramp however.  So now what?!?!?  Time to find a dealership, tow truck and the Calvary!  While trying to get a tow company to answer their phone (they must be really busy because 3 of them never answered!), a highway patrolman pulls in behind me and offers to push me off the ramp and around the corner to a parking lot – great plan if I had steering and brakes……. After looking at my plates he comes to the window and says “well that explains why you could get off the free way. If you had had CA plates you would still be in the fast lane”. So he is kind enough to call us a tow truck.  Funny – they answer HIS call.  The tow truck comes and is kind enough to tow us to the mall right on the other side of the freeway.  Now mind you they have a rule of no dogs in the truck – I thought I was going to have to have the officer take Sue so she would not kill the tow truck driver.  With a bit of convincing he finally allows the dogs to ride on our laps, creating a very very full tow truck.

After finding us a nice shady spot to stay with the truck til we figure out how to get it fixed, I spy a repair shop across the parking lot – yeah!!!  So off I go to see how much this little part of the adventure is going to cost.  Oh sounds like a broken fan belt – $154 – awesome let’s do it!  So the repairman comes across the lot, opens the hood and says “uh oh”, now that in my book is never good.  And well it wasn’t this time either. “um your water pump is toast”, well that sounds expensive, and sounds like a lengthy fix.  These men at the repair shop went above and beyond, while it was expensive $560, they stayed after closing time to get it all done so we could get back on the road.  Our original scheduled time to be home was 5:30pm we finally made it at 12:00am only 6 1/2 hours late!!  But home safe, and sound!!

Keep checking back to find out what cool projects we were working on while we were there!!

California Adventure #2

California Adventure #2

 

Tuesday – who knew that today would be busier than yesterday?!?  Up bright and early, oh wait we need to wait for some of the early morning beach fog to burn off.  I could have waited weeks personally since it was well over a 100 degrees at home in Phoenix.  But alas, there is WORK to do!! (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE what I do?!?) Remember Miss Sadie I mentioned.  One beautiful rescued Corgi, whom I got to shoot Tuesday morning for an upcoming project.  What a truly happy happy dog, and so easy to shoot. Thank you for that Sadie.  What we thought was going to take a better part of the morning only took about a 1/2 an hour.   One project down – on to the next – packing the truck dogs etc for a trip to Paramount Studios to see Eric Stoltz (Sue’s little brother) and the filming of Glee.  Now I have to admit that I have not seen the show, but hey, it was sure to be a good time!

After hiding the dogs (they are not allowed on the lot….lol) and the camera equipment (again not allowed on the lot….) we made it through the gates with our specially printed admittance tickets.  Off to find the studio and Eric!!  Once we were in the studio we got to watch them film a scene and do a dress rehearsal for the next scene.  unfortunately Jane Lynch who plays Sue Sylvester on  the show was not filming today, and no one on the set believed that Suzanne Sylvester was really my name!!  Have to say my favorite part was checking out the lighting.  Yeah I am a camera geek what can I say.  Next stop photos with Eric, Sharkey and ChooChoo on the lot. Then lunch with Eric.  What a nice man Eric is and funny!

The next stop for the day – Kathleen Delgado’s shop Vintageweave Interiors and her 3 Chihuahuas for another photo shoot.  Oh now this shop is just heaven!!  French antiques from floor to ceiling and they make the most fun props, on top of being gorgeous.  I feel so lucky to have been able to shoot Biscuit, Coco and PD for another one of our upcoming projects (so you will just have to stay tuned) and for Kathleen. I could have spent weeks there shooting!

Now I lived in LA for 20 years and do you think I ever got used to the traffic?  Ummm NO, a drive that should have been about 45 minutes was about 2 hours.Ughhhh but the pay off was great. Our next and final stop for the day was to spend the evening with my very very good friend Natalie of Beyond the Reef Patterns in Long Beach.  No shooting required here, just dinner and hanging out with good friends! Ok one shot with Buddy and ChooChoo. Whoooo long day over, nite nite time! See you all in the next chapter!

 

California Adventure #1

California Adventure #1

 

Monday morning bright and early my friend and business partner Susan Stoltz and I load up the truck with camera gear, props, Chalupa (Chihuahua), Sharkey, Charm and Foxy (Jack Russell Terriers) and head to California to shoot the next in the series of Sharkey and ChooChoo books. So 5 and 1/2 hours in the truck with 4 dogs….. interesting to say the least…… While that is not the only project we were there to do, it was the first! Our first stop is to meet up with Nancy Black who is our host for this part of the journey.  Foxy is being left with Nancy to foster, (although, I think the dog, really found her forever home with Nancy…….) so one less dog in the truck. Off to Nancy’s condo in Port Hueneme, right on the beach where we had all four dogs, plus Nancy’s beautiful corgi Sadie. More on Sadie later.  Can you say perfect and beautiful?!?!?!  But before we can begin shooting we need our fearless prop guy Bill Diller.  This is working into a party!! Off to shoot we go, overcast, and somewhat cold, Sharkey, ChooChoo and Charm were all great sports.  1700 shots, 2 wet, sandy and cold dogs, a ton of props and camera gear later we head back to the condo, tired, hungry and anxious to see what we caught on film.  While we wait for those to download, off to Mexican food we go. YUMMY!  Back at the condo we check out the photos, and then off to bed for a busy day tomorrow……………….. Stay tuned for the next chapter, it gets more interesting!

That New Horse Feeling

That New Horse Feeling

I can remember getting my first horse.  I guess I was about 13 (I have to guess becasue it was soooooo long ago!!).  My excitment could barely be contained. The second horse was just as exciting, as were each one to follow. Now I get to be a small part of a young lady getting a new horse, and well it is just as exciting.  This particular young lady found a horse near where I live in Phoenix, and being that she lives in Oregon, I got to be the one to go “try” her out.  Have to say it is a really good thing that she is not a cutting horse, or poor Laken would be out a horse before she ever got her!  With the purchase completed, Annie got to come stay with us for a while, until a ride could be found to take her north. Yesterday  I had to deliver her to Flagstaff to meet her ride and I was actually sad to see her go.  She is a sweet sweet mare and Laken is just going to love her (I hope….lol).  I could not let her leave without getting a few “shots” in of her – I mean who could resist with all that pretty mane??  Glad Laken has to take care of it rather than me though! To Laken, thank you so much for letting me be a little part of this and I truely hope you love your new “pony”. Two beautiful girls together, now that I would like to shoot.

Cutting Is Way To Much Fun

Cutting Is Way To Much Fun

 

The more I shoot cutting shows and tNACHA Cutting Show 08/07/2011he more I show my cutting horses, the more I love the sport.  Sunday was spent shooting lots of nice horses and even nicer people, and wishing that I had brought my horses along.  But work over ruled the showing which is ok, because you can learn so much from just watching.  Life is a whole lot more fun if you let yourself  learn new things and enjoy the ride. The ability to have and show cutting horses in a pure bonus in my book. Thanks to the board of NACHA for another fun show, and for having me there to shoot it!!

More pictures at www.ssylvester.com.

Cool Day In The Pines 07/23/2011
Copper State Horse Show in Flagstaff, what a nice day in the pines at a wonderful show.  Anna and Penny do a great job, and in my opinion could noCopper State Classict have picked a better location!  Cool weather, lots of pine trees and many friends to catch up with.
While it was cool, I did manage to get a bit sunburned on my face.  I forgot that they make this stuff called sunscreen…..duhhhh!!!
Check out all the pictures at www.ssylvester.com.  I look forward to more Flagstaff shoots!!