Wednesday Wandering: Lake Tahoe

Travel Blog Post Series

Exploring Near and Far

I recently had an opportunity to visit wander around northern Nevada. My absolute favorite part of the trip was the loop we made around Lake Tahoe, which is technically both Nevada AND California. I have always heard how beautiful Lake Tahoe is, but I was not prepared. It seems the whole world turned blue – blue skies, blue water… with a glistening blanket of white snow added for good measure. Beautiful. Here is a panoramic view of the lake. The little cabins and docks gave it a bit of a nostalgic feeling.

Lake Tahoe Panorama

Digital Photography, Copyright
© 2018 SuZan Alexander

We stopped for lunch and had the best Mediterranean food at Artemis Lakefront Cafe.  (The Artemis Salad was SOOOOO good.) Then we walked on the docks, looked at the boats, watched the ducks preen, and we were off again. It was such a lovely day, lovely company, and such special memories to bring home. I feel my blood pressure going down just thinking about it now.

Celebrating the Photographer Ansel Adams

Today is the birthday of American photographer, Ansel Adams. I know we’ve all seen his images, heard about his commitment to conservation… and photographers certainly know about the Zone System he championed. So today, on his birthday, let’s celebrate his art, as well as the contributions he made to the art of photography.

I’ve always been intrigued by Adams’s technical abilities with photographs. When I was in college, I even “pitched” the idea of receiving college credit to attend his workshop one summer. My instructor agreed to the college credit IF I wrote a proposal and a paper after the workshop. Her agreement encouraged me to work on a plan to make it happen. My next step was parental approval so I devised a proposal to travel to California via train, and my parents agreed. Hot diggity dawg! I was going to apply to study with Ansel Adams, albeit a short amount of time, but it was time with Ansel Adams. I was sure he would teach me the secret of great photography. Unfortunately, Mr. Adams passed before I got my plan off the ground so I was never his student – in person.

After a long absence from photography, I now find myself embracing digital photography which in many ways is like re-learning photography. Don’t get me wrong. Digital photography has a lot of benefits, but, if I’m truthful, there is a part of me that misses film photography too. I have a collection of Ansel Adams books and I am still learning from him. His methods still hold teachable moment even though the medium has changed. I would like to think he would have enjoyed all the new developments in this medium we call photography.

Happy birthday! This Zone System is for you Mr. Adams.

If you want to join the party, HERE is a video interview with Ansel Adams. Enjoy!

Photographer Edward Curtis

"Kikisoblu (Princess Angeline) of the Duwamish" — the eldest daughter of Chief Seattle. 1896 portrait photograph by Edward S. Curtis.

Princess Angeline

Today is Edward Curtis’s birthday. Edward Curtis was a photographer, who, in my mind, crossed lines into the territory of what I consider a historian, and perhaps even a photojournalist. Officially, however, he is referred to as an “American photographer and ethnologist”. I have written a blog about him before (HERE).

His (circa) 1895 photograph of Princess Angeline (above) is considered his first portrait of a Native American. The rest, as the saying goes, is history. What intrigues me about his story is his dedication and determination. He literally gave up everything to pursue this passion of documenting Native Americans in a time when it was illegal for Native Americans to practice their customs. Clearly, he saw an urgency in documenting as many tribes, as well as their customs, languages, and rituals, before their way of life vanished. I realize there is controversy surrounding authenticity, etc., but I feel there are some stunning images that resulted from his work. For example, I could sit quietly with Princess Angeline for quite a while. Then, there is the Vanishing Race where only one of the warriors is looking back. That small moment becomes a metaphor for the past and a vanishing way of life. There are so many images that give me pause and make me ponder the stories.

So today, on Mr. Curtis’s birthday, have a look-see at some of the images he created which are housed at the Library of Congress.

Russell Lee Photography Exhibit

I have written about my admiration of Russell Lee photography before HERE. The Pie Town exhibit I wrote about was the first time I experienced Lee’s work in person. So, I was happy to learn about an exhibit of his work at the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum in Temple, Texas. The exhibit contains photographs from the Dolph Briscoe Center in Austin, Texas and is on display in the temporary gallery of the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum from January 27, 2018 – March 10, 2018. I have included the press release about the exhibit below.

Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum Press Release for Russell Lee Exhibit

The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is proud to host a new temporary exhibit featuring the photographs of renowned documentary photographer, Russell Lee. These photographs, on display through March 10th, showcase Lee’s stunning black and white images, focusing on topics such as politics, travel, industry and, most touchingly, the human condition.

Russell Lee came to photography after training as an engineer and a painter and left a legacy of more than 100,000 documentary images from the 1930s to the 1970s. Although best known for his large body of work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) from 1936 to 1943, Lee also produced many significant series of images on his own and on other assignments, most of it while living in Austin, Texas, his chosen home.

This exhibit offers a rare glimpse into the images he produced in 1935 and 1936 when he first took up a camera and goes on to highlight the vast body of important work that Lee produced from 1947 through 1977. Although less familiar than his work for the FSA, Lee’s early work and his postwar photography highlight his interest in documenting the human condition and reflect his great talent and humanity.

This collection of digital prints is drawn from the archives of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. The Briscoe Center’s Lee collection includes 3,639 photographic prints, 708 slides, 27,047 photographic negatives, and five color transparencies.

Russell Lee Photographs can be viewed with regular admission to the museum, Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and is part of the regular schedule of changing exhibits at the museum. The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is located at 315 W. Avenue B in downtown Temple. For more information about the exhibit or the museum, please visit or call 254-298-5194.

Russell Lee Photographs was organized by the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin, and presented in partnership with Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Humanities Texas advances heritage, culture, and education and is based in Austin, Texas.


Twelve Easy Steps to Facilitate Selecting Yearly Portfolios

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Imagine you just met someone who asks you what you do. It happens all the time, right? But, how many people follow-up with interest in seeing an example of your work or what you what you are currently working on? Not that many, am I right? So, if they are interested enough to make that extra effort to ask about your work, can you reward their interest by showing them examples of your current project, or a prior body of work, in an organized, professional presentation? Yes. I am guilty too, so no judgment here. I am working on finding the right “virtual” portfolio platform myself. I have experimented with a few options but, in general, I have not found a platform that seems like a “fit” for me, so that part is an ongoing process.

However, while I don’t currently have a mobile/virtual portfolio, I do have a system of selecting and thinking about my top contenders for portfolios. First, I want to say that I use Adobe Lightroom for organizing, keywording, and managing my images into collections. I know there are many other software options and I suspect you could organize a similar system of selecting in any of the other programs too.

Basic Infrastructure

I have a main Collection Set that I named “PORTFOLIO”. Under “PORTFOLIO” there is another Collection Set -“TOP TEN BY YEAR”. Inside “TOP TEN BY YEAR” is yet another Collection Set “2018 Portfolio. Then, inside “2018 Portfolio” are Collections for “2018 YEAR”, “2018-01”, and so on through “2018-12” for each month.




2018 Portfolio

2018 YEAR


2018-02 …



At the beginning of the month, I take a few minutes to add at least 5-10 images I created during the prior month. Most of the time, I have already added the images throughout the month as I work on them. In which case, most of the work has been done and it is just a review process to make sure I did not forget a favorite and do any other “housekeeping” with keywords, titles, attributions, etc.


At the beginning of the new year, it is time to review the monthly folders and select images for my yearly portfolio. I find this little bit of organization each month narrows my focus and helps me select the top images for the year.

Of course, the portfolios for bodies of works, or series of works, have a  “Collection” all on their own and I do not include them in this process.

So now it’s your turn. How do you select your portfolio for the year? AND, do you have a way to share your work that you find easy and convenient to use? Do tell.

Happy Birthday Vivian Maier!


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Today is Vivian Maier’s birthday (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009). If you are not familiar with Vivian Maier or her work, it may be because she was relatively unknown prior to the acquisition of some of her personal effects in 2007. Little information is known about Miss Maier. Apparently, she was an intensely private person who worked as a nanny for some 40 years, beginning in the mid-1950’s. During this time she was known to walk around with a Rolleiflex camera strapped around her neck, snapping images on rolls and rolls of film. Unfortunately, Vivian Maier did not experience the appreciation of her work during her lifetime. In fact, among the bevy of her personal effects were copious rolls of exposed, undeveloped film. Yep. The undeveloped film means that she never saw much of her own work. Clearly, showing her work was not why she did the work. So, what drove her to continue taking those photographs?

Since the discovery of the body of work amassed by Vivian Maier, her work has been exhibited posthumously and her life is the subject of books and documentary films. But, those stories and their details have been told and you can search them out.

My request for permission to share an image or two went unanswered, so you are going to have to click HERE to take a look if you are interested. However, I would like to consider some other points of view about her work. They are really more questions than answers. Here are a few questions that come to mind:

  • Miss Maier is now known for her street photography. It seems she went relatively un-noticed as she recorded everyday life, as well as current events. Maybe her anonymity was due to the Rolleiflex camera which allows the photographer to look down in the camera viewfinder rather than holding the camera up to the eye. I suspect this type camera made street photography a little more spontaneous and less obvious. Or, had she learned a delicate dance of being present without being present – very much like being a nanny who is part of a family’s life without really being family. Or, was it just a different time when photography was not so prevalent and things were, perhaps, a little more innocent and trusting?
  • She was known to be particularly fond of newspapers. Were her documentary-style photographs a type of self-assignment making her a defacto photojournalist? Or, simply a manifestation of her curiosity?
  • She captured her own image, reflection, shadow… in many of the images. Was this too a documentation of her and her life, a happy accident, or was she simply ahead of her time with the selfie revolution?
  • From what I have read, it appears as though Maier may have been a self-taught photographer. How did she learn photography? Especially after she stopped developing her film. Without that feedback, how do you know what is “working” and what is not? What area(s) need work? What is working, but could be better?

There are so, so, so many questions her story and work conjure up. Wouldn’t it be interesting to view the entire portfolio in toto, in chronological order, so you could see her evolution as an artist? Or, should we respect her privacy? What are your thoughts?