Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: HSU Band Camp and Runned over Deer.

Forever A Hillbilly: HSU Band Camp and Runned over Deer.: Forever Cry is on Sale! Send $14 To me at 1030 Evergreen, Arkadelphia, Ar. 71923. Be sure to tell me how you want me to personalize it. I&...

HSU Band Camp and Runned over Deer.

Forever Cry is on Sale! Send $14 To me at 1030
Evergreen, Arkadelphia, Ar. 71923. Be sure to tell me how you want me to personalize it


In 1982, my wife Barbara and I both had good teaching jobs in McCrory, Arkansas. But I made the mistake of buying her a good camera, she loved it, and soon was very good with it. She decided she wanted to be a portrait photographer, and as she had said to me a couple of times when I made a profound, life-changing decision, I just said “OK.” Our lives were about to change forever.
     A photography studio was for sale in Arkadelphia. We bought it, we both gave up our jobs, and prepared to move. Then we both were hit by buyer's remorse. Especially me. Could we do this? Could I find a job? Could we feed our babies in the meantime?
     I drove down once to make arrangements in my old truck. On the way back, I saw a truck hit a deer. The deer was dead, the truck went on, so I picked it up and threw it in the back of my truck. When I got home, I dressed it and froze most of it. We were eating venison that night, and the doorbell rang. My eight year old daughter Kinley's eyes got real big, and she said, “Will they be able to tell that we're eating runned' over deer?”
     Little did I know, we would need every last scrap of that deer to get through the coming months.
     A fancy lady asked me later, “Do you deer hunt?” I replied, “No, but I do enjoy a good roadkill every now and then.” She said “Oh.” and moved a little farther away.

     When we got to Arkadelphia, we realized the studio was about to go under. We started taking every photography job we could find. We once did four weddings in a day. Some photographer told her, photographing dog shows can be really profitable. We located an upcoming dog show nearby, and were given the job on a commission basis. Well, as it turned out, this dog show didn't include show dogs, just your average hound dogs and such. We sat there all day and never snapped a shot. The good side of it was, we didn't owe one penny in commission. From that day forward, every time a job flopped, we called it a  “Dog Show.“
     We were taking pictures at a beauty pageant. We brought each contestant to our portrait setup, just before it started. After we had photographed twelve girls, shot a full roll, I opened the camera to reload. There was no film inside. I ran to Barbara, asked her why she didn’t load the camera. She told me she thought I did. She started quietly rounding each girl up and we reshot them all. Nobody ever knew. Barbara did not need that kind of thing widely known, that early in her career.
     We were shooting a wedding in Little Rock. As we finished up the pre-wedding shots, our camera went down on us. It was a hasselblad, the most reliable camera of it’s day. We didn’t have a good backup, only my old 35 MM I used for wildlife photography, and it was covered with camoflauge tape. As I ripped off the tape, I noticed a little part necessary to hook up the flash was missing. I told Barbara to get in position for the coming-down-the-aisle shot and I would drive to Camera Mart and get the part. Fortunately, they were open on Saturday morning. Fortunately again, they had it. As I ran in the church, the bride was ready to start down the aisle, and Barbara was standing in her shooting position, smiling confidently with her unusable camera. I breezed past the bride, rushed confidently to Barbara, and slipped her the part. She hooked it up, got a great shot. Again, nobody ever knew.

     Things were going bad. I searched everywhere for a teaching job. I lost 30 pounds. A man with kids to feed and no job is a sorry sight to behold. The first photography job I personally landed was taking group pictures at the HSU Band Camp, printing black and whites all night in the darkroom, and selling  them at the final concert. It turned out good, and we managed to get through the summer. My son Corey, going into the 8th grade, helped me sell. When the concert was over, I told him, ”We made a killing today!” He replied, with deep concern, “Are we rich now?” I had been too busy to notice how much our financial problems had affected our children. Now, 33 years later, I still do that job every summer. It's the only photography job we still do. It saved us. I guess I am too emotionally attached to it to ever quit it. I will always feel indebted to Wendell Evanson, the legendary band director at HSU from that time period, for giving me that job. He never knew he saved us, along with a little help from runned-over deer.

     Late in August, I had the great fortune to land a biology teaching job at Arkadelphia. Corey still laughs about the fact that while he was in football practice that day, he saw me up on the hill, waving a biology book at him.

     With my kind of help out of her way, Barbara quickly became a top-notch photographer, and slowly began to turn the business around. And I was the most enthusiastic teacher in town that year, during the autumn  of 1982.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: Forever Cry is for Sale!

Forever A Hillbilly: Forever Cry is for Sale!: My new book, Forever Cry, is now available! I'm not going to put it on Amazon now while I shop around for a traditional publisher. If yo...

Forever Cry is for Sale!

My new book, Forever Cry, is now available! I'm not going to put it on Amazon now while I shop around for a traditional publisher. If you would like to order one, send $14 to Pat Gillum, 1030 Evergreen, Arkadelphia, Arkansas 71923 USA. Please specify how you would like it personalized. For orders outside the USA, please add $4. Thanks!