Friday, February 5, 2016

When A Fan Recognizes You and Your Work

Thank you to Morgan Combs for making my day, year, and decade today at the Grounds Central Station coffee shop in Manassas, Virginia.

While I was discussing distribution ideas for the Virginia Authors Book Sampler with poet and past President of the Virginia Writers Club, June Forte, a sweet and terrifically good-looking couple started up a conversation about photography with us. It came about as I was taking the selfie below with June. The gentleman, probably in his mid-20s, takes professional photographs at the DC Zoo. June was once a photo journalist, and I take photos as well.

June Forte and Me
I mentioned that I also shoot video, specifically nature videos, and when I brought up my nature film Beyond the Garden Gate, a customer across the way spoke up. Morgan Combs revealed that as a child she would watch my film often with her mother. It was one of her all-time favorites, and they watched it over and over again. Beyond the Garden Gate aired on PBS from 2001-2005, but she thinks they purchased their VHS copy at the National Arboretum at that time.

Morgan Combs and a very speechless me trying to take a decent photo.

I had distribution agreements with several garden centers and public gardens, including the renowned Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia. Even a science museum in Scotland used the video as part of one of their displays for a while. I believe they had the time-lapse photography pieces looping on a monitor inside an Alice in Wonderland tunnel.

Anyway, it's not often--in fact for many of us, never--that you get recognized for your work outside of friends and family. I was lucky enough to have experienced this twice for this film. Back in 2001, just weeks after the 9/11 attacks, a man called me from New York City one night. He said, "I pray that you can help me find the producer of Beyond the Garden Gate. I was watching it here in a coffee shop with some of the remaining firefighters of a battalion that lost a lot of men, and it brought such peace over us." He ordered 20 copies for those friends and their grieving families. It still gives me chills to think about that call, which I recorded midway through. I knew that it was a special moment that needed to be preserved.

When authors write, and filmmakers produce, and painters paint, and photographers shoot, we all do it with the hope that others will get what we are creating. That they will feel the same amount of enthusiasm as we did producing the work. That they will understand the characters, the emotions, the strokes, and the images. That's the connection that means the most to us.

That connection was made today. And I thank June, the terrifically good-looking couple that got us talking about photography, and, of course, Morgan Combs for putting a smile on my face and making me blush.

Beyond the Garden Gate is also available on DVD here and on Amazon.

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