Garden & Gun Magazine – Captains For Clean Water

I had the distinct pleasure to shoot with Garden and Gun Magazine recently.   Garden & Gun is an amazing publication with not only great editorial content but is also coveted among photographers as a publication that “get’s it”.   They have a history of working with really amazing photographers and giving them the creative freedom and support to do their very best work.    It was truly a pleasure working with them and I hope we have many more opportunities in the future.

For this assignment I was contacted by Margaret Houston the photo editor to shoot for an article featuring Captain Chris Wittman.    Chris is a fishing guide in Florida (Stillwater Charters) who heads up an organization called  “Captains For Clean Water”.   After being briefed on the article and what CFCW was all about,  I jumped at the chance to hop a plane back to Florida from Utah to shoot for G&G and do my part to  support such a worthy cause.

Captains For Clean Water is a Grassroots Nonprofit Organization Advocating for Clean Water & Healthy Estuaries Across South Florida.  They started out as a group of fishing guides that “had enough” of Florida’s poor water management practices. Given the destruction seen firsthand, we were convinced that if everyone knew what we knew, the problem would have been already fixed. They discovered, the solution has been delayed for decades because of a lack of political will and public awareness.


On average, billions of gallons of nutrient-laden fresh water flow into our lower estuaries via the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers every day. The concern to our estuaries is not just that these unnatural discharges contain pesticides, herbicides, fungicide, high nutrient loads and bacteria which have led to public health warnings; the volume of the fresh water alone is enough to disrupt our fragile marine ecosystems. The nutrients, and other pollutants, enter our waters through agricultural and urban areas in the center of the state, mostly north of Lake Okeechobee. Thankfully, with cooperation of farmers throughout the state, we have slowly been able to reduce phosphorous and nitrogen loads that enter the water supply, yet nutrient levels remain much higher than natural lake and river water.

Here’s what it’s all about…

Under normal circumstances, Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) farmers may not contribute substantial nutrients to this water supply. When we experience heavy rains, however, sugar and other farm lands south of Lake Okeechobee flood. That water is then drained into ditches and ultimately pumped into Lake Okeechobee. This practice is known as back-pumping, and it adds fair amount of fresh water and nutrients to the lake. Back-pumping doesn’t happen on a daily basis, only during periods of heavy rains. The practice is justified in the name of reducing flood risk in largely agricultural areas south of Lake Okeechobee, however it is arguably a violation of the intent of the Clean Water Act and works mostly to the benefit of agricultural corporations operating in the EAA. And it is just one example of the many Lake Okeechobee water mismanagement issues facing our state.

The excess nutrients in Lake Okeechobee discharge water works to fuel toxic algae blooms in our marine (salt and freshwater) environments. The nutrients also have the potential to “fertilize” an already present red tide organism. These recurring fresh water discharges can create two deadly options for marine life in our estuaries: die in the fresh water discharge or be washed out to sea into a supercharged red tide bloom.

The murky, turbid Lake Okeechobee discharge water also kills seagrass, oysters and other life on the sea floor. It blocks light from reaching the seagrass and prohibits photosynthesis. Prolonged exposure to low salinity also kills grass, oysters, and other marine life.

Our seagrass beds and oysters are the foundation of estuarial marine life and an incredible natural filter. Without them, our estuary ecosystems face an uncertain future.

For many years we have witnessed, first hand, a decline in the lower Caloosahatchee, Pine Island Sound, and Indian River Lagoon estuaries due to this long term water mismanagement. While we drown in fresh water, Florida Bay is suffering from a lack of it, causing the water to become too salty to support critical sea life.

Our state needs land in the Everglades Agricultural Area necessary to clean the Lake Okeechobee discharge water in an attempt to restore natural sheet flow to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. This will take large tracts of contiguous land for the construction of storm water treatment areas that will substantially reduce phosphorous and nitrogen levels in the water. Nutrient reduction is critical so we do not simply send our problem south.  For more information,  head over to www.captainsforcleanwater.org or pick up a copy of this month’s Garden And Gun Magazine and you can read the article!

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Update from the road…Winter Edition – Part 1.

desert runWell it has been a while since I’ve posted a summary update from the road.     So much has happened since I last updated you back in late November I’m going to have to break this up into several posts.

As I reflect back on the whirlwind of the last few months I must take a moment to appreciate the view out my side window of my office in the back of our rig.     Today we find ourselves just outside of Park City Utah with a killer view of the snow capped Wassatch mountain range right out my side window.    It’s the kind of view that makes it hard to get work done as the mountains call to you.  Below is an image I made of this view just this morning.   Last night as I started writing this blog entry there was a soft pastel blue and pink sunset going on as the remnants of a 3 day storm that left the mountain with just over two feet of fresh powder started to break up and leave the area.    The next few days promise to be gorgeous blue bird days…  perfect weather for making some great images and harvesting the hidden powder in the back country behind the resorts.  But enough about that for now,   I’ll get back to the present day later in post #2.

Wasaatch-Pano1BWweb

So what have we been up to here in the Barrett camp since Fall?   Where do I start?   The end of November and first week of December brought a few assignments that had me back in Florida shooting.     Because of these assignments and a schedule that required we be back in South FL at a pre determined point,   we had to skip over two locations that I really wanted to shoot.   One was The Outer Banks in North Carolina and the other was in West Virginia where I was to shoot coal miners for the American Worker Project.    A disappointment, but work is work and we’ll just have to circle back around another time to do these shots.

The rest of December and the first half of January was a blur as we found ourselves back in our home base of  South Florida.     We spent some much needed down time decompressing, visiting friends & family,  doing the holiday thing and working in the office doing post production work on all the images I’d shot in the past few months.    We also took a few weeks to explore other areas of our home state on the west coast from Naples,  up through St Pete and on up to the Panhandle.

SunriseAt this point our schedule demanded we hit the road as we had many miles and stops to make before getting here to Park City to capture the last months of the snow season.    Our first stop was more of a tourist/photo opportunity to visit the underground caverns (who knew Florida had caverns?) and explore the swampy bayou  ‘way down yonder by the Chattahoochee’.

Chattahoochee

From there we spent a little over a week in the Big Easy… New Orleans, LA.    By then it was the beginnings of Mardi Gras so as you can imagine the town was abustle with tons of activity.   Parades happening daily all over the city and people having a great time celebrating.      I made some great connections to shoot  through some contacts at Peter Mayer Advertising,  who I had recently worked with, and also through the local tourism office.     New Orleans is a hot bed of creative artists and craftsmen and I jumped at the opportunity to shoot several of them for my American Worker Series (I’ve posted a few teasers from these 4 shoots here but I will be posting the real images soon!!)     We shot with Alex Gernier of Doorman Designs.   Alex makes furniture using reclaimed wood from the old houses of New Orleans destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.      Next came a shoot with Ben Dombey who is a glass blower who hand blows these amazing glass drinking glasses.    Each of them are unique in their own individual way and custom embossed with locally inspired items stamped in the base.    See Ben’s work here.       I also got the opportunity to shoot with Patti Dunn of Tchoup Industries.    Patti and her partner make these amazing hand made bags and backpacks.  You can visit her shop here to see their work.     While wandering through the French Quarter one day,  I stumbled upon the coolest little shop,  (The Bevolo Gas & Electric Light Museum) where they hand make old fashion style gas lanterns.    I talked to two of the craftsmen as they were building their lamps and ended up shooting them for my project as well.

montage

I also shot a ton of the local street musicians and in a few of the bars.   That is one thing that really stands out about New Orleans to me is the amount of musical talent that is everywhere.IMG_0802 copy2

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We wrapped up our Louisiana leg with a quick trip to Oak Alley Plantation.   Oak Alley is an old cotton plantation rich with history.    Once run completely by slave labor,  Oak Alley is still a working farm today but the home is historical landmark and run as a museum.  You may have seen it in several movies.

oakalley slave

From here we set out through Texas, New Mexico,  into Arizona and then on to Utah.   But that is a story for another evening….    Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Winter/Spring update from the road coming in a few days!!

Dear Santa and Small Miracles….

As the year winds down I find it nice to be able to slow down think about other things.   Not things about work,  but the more important things like family and the holidays.    The simple things that make me grin.    Like helping my 5 year old son Jordan write his letter to Santa and seeing my little (soon to be born) son on the ultrasound the other day.

It’s these simple things that remind me of how lucky I am and to appreciate every minute of it.      I hope that you all can do the same.     Merry Christmas!

 

Private Defective… by the other Peter Barrett.

Someone I don’t know found this interesting video a while back and sent me an email inquiring about it, thinking that this was me.     I let her know that while the artist here and I share the same name,  I assure you this is not me.   😉

It is however, quite clever… albeit a bit strange and a maybe a bit disturbing.    My 5 year old son Jordan thinks it is hilarious and so do I, so I thought I would post it here for your entertainment.   (Click the Face below to see video, turn up your sound.  It gets good after a while so keep watching)

“Private Defective”  by  the other Peter Barrett.   Enjoy…

 

 

The Hard Facts About How Copyright Works.

Piracy…

You cannot use copyrighted imagery without permission.   Period.   Or else…

 

Please understand the spirit in which the following information is given:  Long experience tells us that our customers are completely scrupulous about adhering to the copyright conventions, and we make no assumptions to the contrary. Continue reading

Here Lies Photo Fred, Lost His Business, Now He’s Dead

“Here Lies Photo Fred.  Lost his business,  Now he’s dead.”

A bit extreme?  Perhaps… but strangely appropriate in the last few years’ economic climate for many businesses,  not just photography.    I have been asked many times over the years what it takes to run a successful photo business and how photographers charge for their services and the use of their images.  What determines the value of your images and how do you go about licensing them and charging for that?  While much has changed throughout recent years,  some basic tenants remain the same.  I find that by following certain rules and pricing accordingly,  I can keep my destiny from going in the direction that ol’ Fred had. Continue reading