Get In The Game

The last month has featured a generous supply of photoremedy opportunities for me, and they came in  a couple of my favorite categories – kids and travel.Sacred Oils 1j (1 of 1)

I almost opted out of the first photo opp–the baptism of our lovable grandson, Daniel–due to unrelenting back pain. I am, however, quite thankful that Andrew (Daniel’s Dad) wouldn’t let me sit on the sidelines. He basically told me, “Bring your camera and get in the game.” Taking and developing the photos briefly took my mind off the pain, which is what photoremedy is all about. It just took Andrew to remind me. Plus, what’s not to love about being front and center for such a blessed sacrament for such special little dude?

Partially aided by $29 one way January flights on Frontier Airlines, my back problems quieted down enough for Mary and I to take a leisurely tour of places we wanted to experience in Louisiana. It will take awhile for me to develop all of the photos as I’m struggling to spend much time at the computer at one time and I have another back “procedure” schedule for February. But, here’s a sample of what’s coming up here on photoremedy.

Note: photoremedy.me is published as a labor of love. Please feel free to share the site, or any of our posts, with others. Our Home Page always features an option for our readers to sign up to immediately receive new material as an email. We hope you will become a part of our photoremedy network. 

2014 Image of the Year Winner

Photos, digital art, and article by Greg W. Gilstrap. Our 2014 poll is closed, and we have a winner. The “Life is a Splash” image–featuring our oldest grandson’s amusing expression when he stepped onto a colorful splash pad at the Anthem, Arizona Community Park this past summer–ended up walking away with an impressive 41 percent of the vote. Two other photographs also distanced themselves by being the only other images that captured more than 15 percent of the vote. See our December 26, 2014 post to see how all the images fared.

Finalists 1j

Our annual contests have been, to date, essentially passion polls because we let visitors to photoremedy.me register as many votes as they like. The approach proved to be overwhelmingly effective, as our six-day voting period drew 3,024 submissions–virtually tripling the previous record (recorded last year) of 1,099. To all of you who participated in the poll, thank you for making this an unmitigated success and a lot of fun.

Seattle, WA - November 2014

Seattle, Washington – Digital/Fine Art Photography

While the contest is designed primarily for entertainment, it is also aimed at encouraging others–particularly those suffering from chronic pain and other illnesses–to considering turning to photography to help them move their minds away from the pain they are experiencing. Art therapy works, and it is becoming increasingly accepted by respected academic and medical experts. I always encourage our readers to Google “art therapy” to discover all of the related information that is available. The thoughts and photos we post here are designed to demonstrate, “If art therapy can help this knucklehead, perhaps it could work for me as well.”

Seattle, Washington

Pike’s Market Area: Seattle, Washington – Digital/Fine Art Photography

 Important News

1) This is our 99th photoremedy post, so our next one will be a major milestone for photoremedy.me and those that help keep me blogging. Special credit for this help goes to my beautiful wife Mary, our two talented sons Andrew and William, always supportive daughter Amanda Bradner, friends who have traveled with me (or Mary and me), and my excellent team of doctors. Thank you all! Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the baptism of our youngest grandson will be featured in the 100th post. By the way, little Daniel is a keeper!

St. Rose Parish - Anthem, Arizona

St. Rose Parish – Anthem, Arizona

2) Our photoremedy.me blogs are gaining what we used to call “legs” in the marketing and branding business. Of our top five viewed posts in 2015, only two were actually posted in 2014.

Source: WordPress

Source: WordPress

3) Finally, WordPress.com reports indicate our message is “going global.” There is reason to believe that photoremedy.me will be read by individuals in more than 100 countries in 2015.

Source: WordPress

Source: WordPress

Our readers can help us spread the message by becoming email subscribers. Our home page always features an option for our readers to sign up to immediately receive new material as an email. Readers can then forward the photoremedy.me messages to those whom they think can benefit from the information or to those who might enjoy what we are producing.

All the best to all of you in 2015. Please join me in enjoying what promises to be the best year of our lives!

Image of the Year: 2014 Poll

Photos and article by Greg W. Gilstrap. It’s that time of year again: a time when much of the country is covered in varying degrees of white, and when we here in the Arizona Valley of Sun are enjoying glorious sunshine and warm days. At night, we are blessed with the opportunity to squeeze in temperatures that can hover near, or just above, freezing. The cool evening air is a particular blessing for those of us who are from places where more extreme temperature variances are traditionally recorded. A little cold is often embraced, but I have to say it goes a long way for me.

With the promise of a new and even better year rapidly approaching, it’s once again time for our (third) annual Photoremedy Image of the Year contest. As with our previous efforts, we are offering what we like to refer to–tongue in cheek–as a “Chicago-style” approach to voting.  This means you can “vote early and vote often.” If you love a photo, follow the poll’s progress and don’t be afraid to share it with your friends or to come back to register extra votes for good measure. More than 1,000 votes were registered each of the last two years. The poll can be found at the bottom of this post, after all of the photo candidates are offered.

2013 Image of the Year Finalists. Winner: Cannon Beach (top)

2013 Image of the Year Finalists. Winner: Cannon Beach (top)

The 2014 images below include traditional photographs and some that feature significant digital art enhancements. Like many, I enjoy both forms of artistic expression. All of these pieces were captured and developed while pursuing photoremedy. Click on the ‘Background and Initial Post’ tab above for our working ‘photoremedy’ definition. Check out the options, and then select the image that you feel is worthy of being crowned Photoremedy Image of the Year. The contest closes at midnight MST, New Year’s Eve.

1. Stations of the Cross Early in 2014, we visited Denver’s spectacular Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for our good friend Paul Louderman’s ordination as a Catholic Deacon. The Basilica features exquisite stained glass and poignant salvation history art. I was particularly blown away by this image taken of a tiny “stations of the cross” sculpture depicting the moment when Jesus was stripped of his garments.Station Of The Cross -1j

2. Lake Mead Marina Since Las Vegas is so close to our home, Mary and I generally go there for a couple of short visits each year. If you time it right, there are great hotel rates to be found, and there are always awesome culinary options. On the way to Vegas, we’ve sped past Lake Mead turn off dozens of times. This year was different. We are so grateful we slowed down and took the road less traveled. If we hadn’t done so, we would have missed out on incredibly enjoyable photoremedy at the Lake Mead Marina.

Lake Mead Marina

3. This Ain’t a Kiss Our hometown, Anthem, features green parks and walking trails. The “big park” is always full of action, ranging from kids at the big playground and riding the small train to pets on leashes and water fowl on the lakes. It, too, is a great place for photoremedy. While tagging along with my wife and one of our grandchildren in 2014, we came upon this scene near one of the fishing ponds. While it may look like these two are loving on each other, they were not. These aggressive drakes were actually involved in a territorial tussle of sorts when their beaks got stuck together. It took a few minutes for them to break free. After that, they appeared too tired for brawling; each of them then headed in different directions.

At Anthem, AZ Community Park

4. Life is a Splash Our grandkids have blessed our lives with much love, laughter, and hope for the future. As grandparents, it seems Mary and I are a bit more in tune with the young ones’ sense of awe and wonder than we were with our children. This thought was hilariously reinforced during a summer outing when our oldest grandson got a bit of a shock at the Anthem Splash Pad.Emmett Splash 2b (1 of 1) - Copy

5. Z is for Zebra Awe and wonder is also produced when we take the young ones to places where they can closely observe–or interact–with animals. Litchfield Park’s Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium is one of our favorite experiences in the metro Phoenix area. Not only do the kids love it, but so do I. Each time, I seem drawn to the artistic potential that zebras offer. Zebra images are often illustrative of the protective power of coming together.I See You  (1 of 1)

6. Will I See You Tonight? Coming together for dinner is often one of the foundational building blocks of healthy societies. I feel like this digital image beautifully illustrates the warmth that can be produced when people gather together in small and intimate places for good food, a refreshing drink, and neighborly conversation. Cheers!Ingo Final fapj w border

7. Local Character Good food, in interesting places, can often tell you a lot about a local community. What does the Two Hippies Beach House tell you about the emerging eclectic Phoenix restaurant vibe?

Two Hippies Beach House - 501 East Camelback Rd., Phoenix

8. Coming Home This summer, a few of our Arizona family members returned to Kansas for a few days with our families in, and near, where Mary and I have roots. Tiny Aurora, Kansas isn’t a major stop on the tracks these days. But, from here, many of Mary’s relatives (and teachers, if you will) learned a lot about life, love, and community. To me, it is more than “just another small town.” It’s still a remarkably important place that shaped a bright future for Cloud County and beyond.Auroa tracks sunrise 1j

9. Up on Main Street I am as impressed as anyone with Frank Lloyd Wright designs, modern architecture, mater-planned communities, and expensive marble buildings. If you want to know the type of place where I’d most like to enjoy a “nice cold one,” however, this is it–up on Main Street.

Downtown Aurora, Kansas

10. Save St. Joseph The past few times that I’ve been back visiting with Mary’s relatives in Cloud County, Kansas, I feel this extraordinary pull to enjoy a little photoremedy in tiny St. Joseph. I am so impressed with how the community has been devotedly maintained–in particular how the historic local Catholic Church there has been lovingly maintained. There’s even an impressive YouTube video about Guardians of The St. Joseph Church Foundation. Check out their efforts.

St. Joseph Cathedral - St. Joseph, Kansas

11. I Got Your Back Another great Kansas stop is the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead in Overland Park (metro Kansas City area). During our summer trip there, our granddaughter got to meet her second cousin for the first time. They really enjoyed the attraction, and I enjoyed getting the opportunity to capture images like this. They went running into the Nature Trail entrance, and suddenly stopped cold in their tracks. Then, with a gentle touch, I could almost hear him say, “I got your back!” Of course, knowing young boys, he might have been saying, “This looks scary. You first!”I Got Your Back 1fapj (1 of 1)

12. Elliott Bay Sunset Our youngest son is attending school in Seattle, Washington. We have spent the past two Thanksgivings there with him. Mary and I have really grown to love the city–particularly when it offers sunset views like this one from Elliott Bay.Elliott Bay Sunset 1j

Note: Photoremedy.me is published as a labor of love. Please feel free to share the site, or any of our posts, with others. Our Home Page always features an option for our readers to sign up to immediately receive new material as an email. We hope you will become a part of our photoremedy network. Special thanks to Andrew Gilstrap for adding his special touches to this post. In my humble opinion, he is one of the best writers and editors in the Phoenix market.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I find myself hoping I will taste the perfect turkey and fixings (again) this year. Meanwhile, I’m sure those who know me best are just hoping I won’t be the perfect turkey (again) this year!

Le Crueset - Kerland Commons, Scottsdale

Le Crueset – Kerland Commons, Scottsdale

Fall is always glorious in Arizona, and, with the holiday season catapulting towards us, I’m giving thanks for the opportunity to get out and enjoy photographing a small sample of the Grand Canyon State’s seemingly always interesting people, scenery, and places. It’s also provided the opportunity to continue to attempt to refine my digital art and fine art photography skills.

Back in 2011, the year I started writing about the joy and healing power of photography, I shared some of my Thanksgiving thoughts that November. I reviewed it today, and found myself in the same frame of mind. I’ll wrap up today’s post with the same words that concluded that initial Thanksgiving photoremedy.me post.

When we embrace that there is one greater than us, it is much easier to look for the blessings in our lives at all times. It is much easier to be humble in our victories and hopeful when we face great challenges. It is much easier to understand the importance of giving thanks always.

Anthem Community Park

Anthem Community Park

Someday They’ll Fly

Mary and I recently had the opportunity to tag along while our grandsons and our son,  Andrew, enjoyed a sunny day at the park. Instead of trying to write something witty about our journey, I thought we would just share a sample of the photoremedy fruits that were produced along with some of great playground quotes found at scrapbook.com.With M at Park 1 (1 of 1)

“Boys are 90% mischief and 10% dirt.” Author: Unknown

“I see children as kites. You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground. You run with them until you’re both breathless. They crash . . . you add a longer tail . . . you patch and comfort, adjust and teach. You watch them lifted by the wind and assure them that someday they’ll fly.” Author: Erma BombeckWith Daniel at Park 1 (1 of 1)

 “One of a parent’s best jobs is waiting at the bottom of a long slide” Author: Dee Ann Stewart from “What Spock Forgot”

“The world is a playground and life is pushing my swing.”  Author: Natalie Kocsis

Note: photoremedy.me is published as a labor of love. Please feel free to share the site, or any of our posts, with others. Our Home Page always features an option for our readers to sign up to immediately receive new material as an email. We hope you will become a part of our photoremedy network. 

Arizona’s Verde Valley

Arizona’s Verde Valley is the Grand Canyon State‘s sleeper region.

Jerome, Arizona

Jerome, Arizona

The area features picturesque high desert and mountain top beauty. Well known destinations–like Sedona–and relatively undiscovered small town gems like Cottonwood, Jerome, Clarkdale, Camp Verde, and Cornville. All of it is close to an hour from my home, and the journey to the Verde Valley from Anthem can take you (depending on the route) through additional charming communities like Dewey, Mayer, Prescott, and Prescott Valley. A lot of the attractions are colorful historic sites and buildings, along with the Verde Canyon Railroad and a burgeoning wine industry.

Javelina Leap Vineyards & Winery

Javelina Leap Vineyards & Winery

It’s a place where I frequently go for photoremedy, and it’s a great place to enjoy with friends and family.  I’ve spent a couple of days in the Verde Valley this fall, and focused primarily on the delightfully grungy photo opportunities that exist in this most interesting region.

Photoremedy is primarily based on the role that photography has played in helping Greg attempt to combat ongoing chronic pain issues that stem from his degenerative cervical and lumbar spine challenges. It is designed to encourage others fighting chronic pain (and other illnesses) to consider pursuing the benefits associated with what is popularly known as art therapy. It’s important to note that many of the photos Greg takes and develops frequently blur the lines between traditional art and contemporary photography, much as art therapy often blurs the lines between traditional and alternative forms of medicine.