Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Port Gibson, Mississippi - Southern Photography

So many of us walk around day after day living our life the same way under the same circumstances, yet we expect somehow for this day to be different. We wake up saying "Today may be better", yet we ourselves do nothing to help steer the day in a different direction. We wake up with the same attitude each day. We expect to get cut off in traffic, we expect to get skipped in line at Walmart, we expect to have customers at our job that aren't happy. Then we expect that these things will once again ruin our day.

Well take a look at this picture taken this past Saturday in Port Gibson's Lake Hamilton. Here is a lake full of despair, yet this flower decided to be different. This flower lives in the same circumstances that all the other flowers live in, yet it is full of life and reaching for the sky!

That is the lesson that God wanted me to see this weekend. He wanted me to know and to share with you guys, that we control our own attitudes. We control our own reactions. Even when we are living in a world of ugliness, a world of rudeness, we control how that affects us.

Next time you are cut off in traffic, next time someone jumps in front of you in line, next time that customer is rude, say to yourself "You will not bring me down today." No matter what this world throws at you, you have a God who loves you and his attitude toward you will never change. Now go and have a joyful day!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Salvation Story Through My Photos - Mississippi Photography

Once upon a time I was on a very lonely road. Going through life, going through the motions but always feeling an emptiness inside. Something was missing. I had money, a college degree, and a great family, but it never was enough and I never felt complete. Then one day it all came crashing down. But that's not the end of the story. So let me start at the beginning...

Joyless Life

Growing up my life was kinda like this picture. No color, no joy. The people around me were like these trees. Just as weak as I was and feeling like they could break at any minute. Potholes and broken roads were at every turn. I burned a lot of bridges with people that I held resentment with. For the first 30 years of my life I was living this Hwy 80 life, when there was an entire Interstate 20 right next to me. 

The Crash

Then one day it all came crashing down. I was working three jobs. My regular job and also trying to run two small businesses of my own. You see, I wanted to be rich. To have power and notoriety. I lost my businesses and almost lost my family. My beautiful wife and two kids were ready to walk out the door. I deserved it. I was a terrible husband and father that only thought of himself. I was "doing all this for them" to give them money and "things". But that's not what they wanted. My pride and desire to have worldly things had consumed me like the vines on this building until one day my legs literally collapsed from underneath me. 

The Rebound

Some of my friends had been trying to tell me about this "other life". This "I-20" life that was focused on others and not myself. That was focused on happiness and a contentment that didn't involve power and money. They told me that Jesus loved me and that he could help me.

Baby Steps

They invited me to church and welcomed me and my family with open arms. I took baby steps at first. I just committed to going on Sunday's at first. I didn't make any major decisions or become this Jesus freak. It just felt right and it felt like I was finally on the right track and the darkness I felt for so long finally started seeing light again. Those dead trees that had been all around me starting growing vibrant leaves and the new life of green surrounded me.

Salvation Is Here

Then one day it happened. I had just left church and it started to sink in. I heard a message that Jesus had died on the cross for me. I never really knew what that meant until that night. It meant that before Jesus there was no way for a sinner like me to get to heaven.  But because Jesus died on the cross I had a way to get to heaven. I prayed to Jesus and told Him that I know that I am a bad person, that I had done a lot of sins in my life. I told God through many tears that I was sorry and that I needed him to come into my life. 

Joyful Life

It was just that simple, and suddenly that emptiness and void that I had felt for years was overflowing with joy and peace. I was a new man at 30 years old. I felt like a kid again. A kid not afraid to look silly. To raise my hands in praise. I felt clean and like I had a new start as a new child. I felt like God had taken away all my guilt, my shame, my sin. He let me start over again, and even though I still fail sometimes, he is faithful to forgive me and now I know he will always love me.

Amazing Grace

It's been over 12 years since that day. I'm still not rich monetarily, but I am rich in so many other ways! I thank God everyday for rescuing me. I thank Him for saving my marriage, and for teaching me how to raise my kids. I love him and talk to Him everyday. I call on Him when I'm tired, when my daughter takes off down the highway on her way back to college, and when the sunrise comes over the horizon and I start snapping pictures. My life today is kinda like this picture. With Jesus up high in the sky, I am below trying to be a reflection of Him. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Church Pulpits

The pulpit is a furniture fixture you'll find in most if not all churches.  A two-sided communication bridge between God and the congregation looking for Gods wisdom and inspiration.  One one side of the pulpit stands the spiritual leader of the church.  When the leader steps up to their side of the pulpit it is a time of reverence.

The words that are about to be spoken from that side of the pulpit are supposed to be words that have been inspired by God himself and presented to the church body using the leader as a channel.  That presents a great responsibility for the leader because they must be sure that before they step up to the pulpit, that what they have to say truly is the message that God wants them to present. This usually involves the leader spending time with God in prayer and study of the bible before ever walking up.

On the other side of the pulpit is the church body. People of the community that walk in the church doors to hear a message of hope. To sit and face the pulpit just as Moses faced the burning bush to hear a message of what they should do with their lives.

Many traditional churches consider the pulpit itself holy and sacred, not to be moved at any time.  Other more contemporary churches will move the pulpit on and off the stage at the appropriate times of the service. These pictures were taken from churches around the state of Mississippi and when I'm taking the pictures I want to be reverent and respectful of the place I'm in. Praise God!

For more photos of southern faith click here

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Church Hill, Mississippi

Once upon a time a person could mail a letter to a loved one in Church Hill, Mississippi using zip code 39055. That is until September 30th, 1992 when Mr. Adolph Wagner, Jr. who had served as the Church Hill Postmaster from December 30, 1963 closed the Post Office doors for the last time. Now a simple unincorporated town in Jefferson County, Church Hill, Mississippi is located up Hwy 553 about 14 miles north of Natchez. But that is the end of the story, let's go back to the beginning.

The genesis of the Church Hill community was a group of people known as the "Old Maryland Settlement" that moved to the Jefferson County area from Maryland after the Revolutionary War. For many years the town was simply known as the "Maryland Settlement" until the name was eventually changed to Church Hill around 1820.

If you drive through Church Hill, you would obviously think that the name comes from the big church on the hill, but it seems that the community name was established long before the church you see today was even built. The first church of the community, known as "Christ Church" was constructed of logs in 1820 and was located on Fairchild’s Creek, with the current structure not being built until 1858. This church was part of one of the oldest Episcopal groups that dated from the 1790's and its design was copied from the old country churches in England. Looking through the windows I could see the large beautiful beams, and I read that in the slave balcony you can still see the names of the founding members where they wrote their name with a turkey quill on one of the beams.

Around 1870 came the local goods/commissary store. I couldn't find any names for who ran the store from 1870 to 1927, but several records show that the store was run by the Wagner family from 1927 to 1997 with many Church Hill residents describing the store as the community's unofficial city hall.

So that brings us back to today. Today residents meet in the "Christ Church" once a month and the Wagner store is now the focus of a restoration project led by the Church Hill Preservation Trust, affiliated with the Historic Natchez Foundation. A push is on to not only save the old building but to transform it into an educational museum celebrating the area's history.

Now that I have researched Church Hill, I discovered that there is much more to see. There are several antebellum homes that I didn't get to. I hope to get back and see them soon. Here are a few more photos.

High Resolution Photos of Church Hill

Grits Photography

Sources for this blog

Jefferson County Website
The Free Library

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Grits Photography Website - Redone!

Hi guys! I have completely redesigned my Mississippi delta photo website www.gritsphotography.com and hope you'll take a look at it. I hope I've organized it so that you can find the photos you're interested in without having to dig around too much!

Here are a few from the archives. This old mechanic shop in Nitta Yuma, Mississippi had an owner that must have had trouble with the local patrons!

This one is from upstairs of the Big Red Barn in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, I had never been up there before so I climbed the ladder and grabbed this shot.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Memorial Day

Marty took me to the National Cemetery this past Memorial Day and the Vicksburg National Military Park. They put out the flags every year to honor our fallen heros. Believe it or not, this was my first time to ever experience the flags and take the time to walk through the cemetery and reflect on the sacrifice of our soldiers from long ago. It was an honor to walk through such sacred ground and capture the red, white and blue.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Nitta Yuma, Mississippi Firetrucks

There's some kinda story behind the items of the pictures I take. A history that I may never know. For example, what fires were fought with this old Ford firetruck? Who were the men that knew how to run it? As I walked around this truck, I imagined the old timers that jumped in responding to the old barns on fire. How did they find out there was a fire? There was no 911, probably no phones to call. Did the family in need have to run down the road and bang on the door? What kind of sound did the siren make?

Next time your driving up 61 North, look off the left side of the road and maybe you'll spot this old treasure. See pictures below or click here for all my Nitta Yuma, Mississippi photos

Monday, May 24, 2010

Delta Colors

Well we once again took off into the delta this weekend and found that the delta was alive and well! The colors ranged from the rich greens of the growing crops to the orange glow of the sunrise to the reds of the rusty delta farm equipment and the blues of the beautiful summer sky. Hope you enjoy!

Right before the sun cracked the horizon, I grabbed this shot of a Marty silhouette! His blog this week focuses on the awesome sunrise we shot. Check it out!


Then came a beautiful sunrise!

The sun was shining bright on these gorgious delta crops

Mount Helena was alive and well. The house is huge, but seems so small against the big beautiful blue sky.

Another incredible day. I never tire of driving through my home state. No matter how much you shoot these delta monuments, we always seem to find something new!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Big Red Barn - Rolling Fork

Took a few pictures of the "Big Red Barn" in Rolling Fork a few weeks ago. I never tire of visiting it. It seems like we find a different angle every time we visit. Better grab pictures while we can, I've read where they are actually going to renovate the barn into some type of cultural center. If you know any more information about the renovation let me know.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Downtown Vicksburg

Well, we had a really short photoshoot this Saturday as all of us had to try to get home before 9! So we left the house at 5:30 hoping to catch a sunrise, but the weather really didn't cooperate this time, so we drove around downtown in our hometown of Vicksburg! Still got some great shots and paid attention to some details this time that you take for granted in your own city when you see it everyday.

This was a new site as we drove downtown! The empty lot in the foreground on this photo was where a building has stood for 70 years or so. Well they knocked it down a few weeks ago and exposed this "ghost" billboard of an old "Snowdrift shortening" and Coca Cola advertisement. Best I can tell in my internet research, the Snowdrift shortening company advertised from 1896-1920 or so, so this is pretty old!

Beautiful colors of Downtown Vicksburg

Hope you enjoy, and come visit us sometime!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Delta Sunrise

Took off Saturday morning with my friends Marty and Jerry and went straight into the heart of the Mississippi Delta. We drove straight up 61 North not knowing what to expect or see. The rain was falling, so we thought a sunrise would be hard to find with all the clouds. Well about 6:45 the clouds started breaking and the sun was a bright orange as it tried to find a peephole through the storm! Boy o boy did we find a sunrise! Here is the "Big Red Barn" silhouetted with the awesome Delta sky.

This tree was on the east side of the highway straight across from the barn

On Marty's blog this week he discussed the rare "double shotgun" house we found. Here is my shot of what I called the "Delta Duplex"!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Colors are back! Spring has arrived!

Oh what a winter. When your favorite shots are full of color and life, the winter can prove challenging for a photographer. But Spring has officially sprung and today (once the sun popped out) the colors came alive! Hope you enjoy.