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You started it!

I think everyone that has siblings remembers screaming "You started it!" at their brother or sister as a parent is informed of the infraction.  There is a twist to this statement and most photographers know it very well, the photograph that starts a project.  

Alora with her baby doll

Alora with her baby doll

Years ago I had the most fantastic family as neighbors.  Their two kids with twisted golden curls, cherubim cheeks and mischievous eyes offered hours of entertainment while we sat on the stoop together.  I quickly became enthralled by how angelic these kids looked and how much destruction they could cause, especially to their most loved things.  

Watching this interaction between child and toy I kept being drawn back to the words of the Skin Horse in Velveteen Rabbit.  

"You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Since I was being dogged by inspiration I put up a set one day and photographed the kids and their toys.  At one point during shooting Alora's mom got her to sing and I snapped this frame.  When I started to edit the images I noticed how Alora's mouth in song resembled her baby doll's.  I couldn't stop looking at them side by side, so that's how they remain.  A little girl and her most loved baby doll.  That is how the Velveteen Rabbit project began and Alora started it!

Along the way I showed the project around and someone said "You'll never get an image as good as that one for this project.".  

I do love a good challenge.

Ernest with his monkey

Ernest with his monkey

You can see more at KaylinnGilstrap.com/velveteen .

Tax Day

We love what we do.

Ricky Bobby

Ricky Bobby

A few years back I was making a lot of trips home to Colorado to work on a very emotional and important project on the Piñon Canyon Expansion Opposition.  I would work from dawn til dark photographing landowners all across southeastern Colorado and hearing their stories.   It was a wonderful experience and it is a project I was and still am very proud to be a part of but I put everything into it and was exhausted.    I decided when I returned, I needed a break.

Desert Rose

Desert Rose

So I started thinking of what I should do for this break...  When I was in my youngest years of childhood, my siblings and I used to run around the ranch building forts, making mudpies and playing with Hot Wheels and Tonka trucks.  We would find a good patch of dirt and make roads for the cars and trucks to speed around, even driveways to pull up and park.  We lost ourselves in hours of play.

Old Blue

Old Blue

Now years after my last mudpie, I decided I needed to do a bit of playing.  After a short hunt I found some old toy trucks that I thought would be just the right combination of fun and "work".  I cruised the seventeen miles of gravel roads between town and the ranch to shoot some fun, no pressure photos.

One day my cousin, a cowboy a few years older than myself, came across me laying down in the dirt moving a semi truck back and forth trying to find the perfect place for it.  He yelled from his pickup asking what in the world was I doing and I responded with a jovial "I'm working!".  He chuckled and shook his head but turned his pickup off and strode over.  He didn't stay long (ranch work allows for less playing) but he did look over the trucks and even move a couple around, I'm sure remembering his own childhood days in the sun and dirt.  

Rusty Nail

Rusty Nail

Today can be one of those days we need reminding why we choose the careers we do.  Somedays these creative endeavors actually do feel like work but most days all we're doing is playing or listening to stories or creating an image that has been floating in our heads.  I can't imagine trading it in even if it would make April 15th easier to take.  I still have some more trucks for the days I need reminding.  

Lazy T

Lazy T