Tuesday, June 1, 2010

oh dear, it's the paparazzi again....

I have a delightful tale to share with you that could well be apropos of nothing save for the size of this wonderful world and the threads that connect us. That's good enough right there, don't you think?

Those faithful and devoted readers of my inane burblings might recall a recent post - it was April 15th, to be exact - that featured a photo of a chubby baby seal in a yogic ballet pose on the shore of a German beach.

I took it upon myself to spirit the image off the web from the SFGate "Day in Pictures." And I fell in love with this seal. I have him in my iPhone photo album. He's even on the wall of my Chapel Office (you know, printed out on plain paper), sandwiched between my icons of Jesus and His Blessed Mother and my views of Mount Burdell. I'm a sap, okay? A rip roaring, goofball sap. This image stole my heart. My little buddy!


So one day I Googled "photo of seal in Germany." That would be good for, oh, 4000 hits, do ya think? Yes I do. By page 4 or 5, I found another website with the photo credit I'd initially failed to jot down. There he is! And I wanted to say THANK YOU. So I Googled "Axel Heimken Germany" and found a glorious photographic website (click on the word "website" and I'll take you there). In German, of course. I scrolled and scrolled. I didn't find my adored pudgy hammock but I could see that this WAS the right artistry. And I found a page where I could leave an email. Again, it's in German and I don't speak a word. (OK, danke - guten Tag - that's it). "Kontact" looked close enough. And I did; I said "Thank you."

And you know, he wrote back. And he asked if I'd like a copy of the seal photo in high res. I offered to pay and he said, "No." And he sent me two more! The second of those is featured here along with the original shot. In high res, of course.

I asked him how he got the shot. That face, that sweet face! Axel wrote, "It's quite simple to take good pictures from the seals - they are residents on a small island in the North Sea at the German coast.

You just have to wait ... when they come out from the water to reach their 'chill out places ' they do this with funny moves. If you take a long lens (they are very shy and won't come out of the water when you are too close) you'll be able to get good pictures.

Thanks again that you recognized my work!"

Is he a lovely man or what? I had visions of some stuffy international AP photographer who'd barely find the time to sneer at my gushing coos. While I shuffled my feet and said that initially I'd just taken the shot off the web, I did ask his permission to quote him here. There's denial and then there are decent manners. Perhaps if I am graced to grow older, I'll exhibit more of the latter than the former.

So go ahead, have a look at his website. He's amazingly gifted. I'd pondered becoming a pro photographer before I went in another direction, one not entirely detached from demon alcohol at the time. Let's see - pro photographer or musician in a bar band? It's hard to have a grip on a creative calling, connection with a God of one's understanding or even common sense when one is practicing a really unforgiving disease.

I needed to get sober and thanks be to GOD that I did and am today.

Grateful to be alive and sober is what I say in meetings. I am exuberantly thankful to the Lord for both!


  1. Aw, that's wonderful!

    I'm grateful for you every day!


  2. It is amazing how nice some incredible artists can be. Recently I was looking for beautiful fantasy pictures for a slideshow music video I was doing for my YouTube channel. I stumbled across the work of a Dutch lady, Ine Braat, was mesmerized and upon contacting her for permission was surprised by her warm and engaging demeanor. See her work at http://www.ine-pps.nl/ . Once again, like when I met you Diane, serendipity.


  3. It's really nice that as you approach people from a place of humility, joyfulness, and gratitude, (rather than arrogance, attitude and entitlement) then so often (though not always) there is a delightful and rewarding response. You do that Diane...you seem genuinely grateful and joyful about your life today... even appreciative of a seal striking a pose and a photographer who is there to catch it... why wouldn't the photographer be gracious in his response? Good for you!