How Does He Do That?


One of the very first things I remember as a child, was learning to say my prayers every night before going to bed.  Nowadays, when I wake up in the morning I throw in a solid “Thank you Lord” for a shot at one more day.

 I also add another thank you for the opportunity to do what I enjoy most in life, and that’s documenting with pictures the awesome beauty of His creation. The trick, and I discovered this early on, is capturing those images to express the beauty I see, or imagine, when I take the photo.  You know what I mean.

We’ve all done it.  You see a beautiful sunset, you get your camera out, take the picture, anxiously send it in to be processed and when it comes back… it looks like a three-year-old waved a flashlight in front of the camera while you held the button down and counted to 10.  A blurry mess of undefined light and faded color. Another sunset long forgotten. Been there.  Done that.

One day, long before I could do anything but dream of making a living in photography, I woke up and realized that in my professional life, I demanded absolute perfection in every aspect of what I did. I thought to myself, “Why not apply the same principles to my photography?” Thinking back, I first had to learn what perfection was before I could actually apply those values to my art.  Even though I always wanted to take a class in photography, I just never made it happen. It took me years to recognize and understand a good picture when I saw one.

But over the years I took thousands of pictures, financially contributing to the success of my favorite film labs and gradually learned the art of photography.  I sometimes look back and think of it as the art of attrition. I was a slow study.

But then, one day I woke up and found myself preparing for my first formal university level class. The odd thing was, I wasn’t going to be taking the class — I was going to teach it.  It seemed strange, but nevertheless, there I was standing in front of a whole room full of want-to-be photographers where for the next few semesters, I shared what it took me years to learn on my own. I added a “thank you Lord” that first night when I went to bed, as I always do when my images are featured in magazines, books or postcards around the country.

And, there’s another thank you whenever the check actually arrives in the mail.

The accompanying pictures were captured along the Rio Grande over the fall and winter months of 2013. Large numbers of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese migrate annually to the Bosque del  Apache area along the Rio Grande to spend the winter. (So do a number of photographers!) Capturing such images requires the discipline of a good 4 a.m. breakfast, long underwear, waterproof boots, a decent camera, and lots of well-planned luck.  Although the best opportunities occur at sunrise and sunset, it pays well to spend the entire day in the field.

These images (and more) have all been printed on a special metallic photo paper in sizes as large as 24” x 36” and are on display for a limited time at Rodney’s Café on West Broadway across from the El Capitan.

Coming this fall is a special showing of “Guadalupe Mountains National Park” also presented in large format metallic prints. Watch the Advocate in coming weeks for an exclusive preview to a premier book signing event celebrating the new glossy cover book by Michael Haynie titled “Guadalupe Mountains National Park” featuring the photography of Gil Potts.


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