Simple things

Message from the President
May 2011

Prepping the burger - by John Kleb

There’s nothing as wonderful as a good burger. It’s a simple thing really — a balanced meal that you can hold in your hand. Okay, maybe not balanced, but all the food groups are there.

It’s one of those wonderful American creations that takes a simple idea and allows you to mold it to your own taste, easily share it with friends and family, and you can tinker with it.

Empires have been built around the concept of meat, cheese, and vegetables between two buns. We drive by them everyday. Each one has their own unique rags-to-riches tale of making something quick, cheap, and tasty; then working with their creation until it finally paid off. Corporate powerhouses started in the home kitchen.

Then came another very American addition to the burger. Someone looked at the factory-made generic pack on a bun and said “I can do better than that.” Many have tried while a few succeeded, at least in terms of a business. But, they took that oh so simple concept for a meal and improved upon it.

Then a few of them became true artists. That’s what I was thinking about as I devoured “Buffalo” at Burger Guys before our print competition meeting last Tuesday. It was simplistic, but you could tell someone put forth a lot of thought, effort, and passion into it. You didn’t even have to taste it to know that was there. It had its own glow of pride cooked into it.

Open-faced Buffalo - by John Kleb

If you haven’t noticed yet, I have a tendancy to take ordinary things in life and try to find a lesson in it to apply to my own art and photography. This simple act of eating dinner with my wife was another lesson found.

You see, what we do as photographers, most people consider a really simple task. We take photographs. Simple, right? Many people think if they just spent a few grand on gear, they could have great photographs too. I’m not going to preach to the choir on that subject, we all know how wrong that typical assumption can be.

What I noticed is the traits that make us passionate artists are the same ones found in many other vocations. We take a simple task and work hard to bring it to a higher level of being. Our effort, passion, and knowledge shines through our images the more we work at creating them.

You don’t have to have an art history degree when someone has truly mastered the craft. Even a half-blind gorilla could look at a Weston, Avedon, or an Adams and see that there’s something special there. Just as someone who has lived their life going through drive-throughs could take one bite of my burger last week, that person would likely know that they were sitting at a counter across from a master of the craft.

Closed-face Buffalo - by John Kleb

No, we may not all be the next Dan Winters, but there’s no reason not to try. Surrounding us are examples of how someone can take a simple thing they are passionate about and make a masterpiece of it.

Yes, it’s hard work. But so is anything worth having.

We have to try new things and experiment.

We have to say to ourselves, “I’m going to make my own mustard, aioli, and everything else I can can think of. I’m going to make a burger with Thai spices on it. I’m going to try something different to be better than I was before.”

That’s the passion we need to have — to consistently try and continue trying. When we do that, it shows through in our photographs.

Even if it’s not a taste everyone likes, they will see the love that was put into creating it. That is where a great works really begins.

Devoured - by John Kleb

I have to give a word of thanks to the chefs over at Burger Guys.

I walked in this afternoon as a total stranger and asked them to make me a pretty burger for a photograph. Within seconds, I was getting a description of how good the days vegetables looked without a question as to who, what, or why. The love showed through again and again and my taste buds left happy.

P.S. One more lesson learned for everyone thinking of participating in our portfolio challenge later this year — all of their burgers are based on the flavors of the cities they are named for. They are a portfolio. It’s a theme built to become a work "as a whole" made up of individual pieces.

Think about that. The menu is a portfolio.

If they can do it with food…

~ John Kleb, 2011 HPS President

HPS executive meeting

HPS officers and chairpersons are expected to attend an executive meeting tomorrow. Agenda items were emailed by the president.


Wednesday, May 4
7 – 9 p.m.

La Madeleine Country French Cafe
10001 Westheimer Rd., Houston

Why HPS?

A video featuring a few HPS members and photographs discusses candidly about what some of our members like best about HPS.

Long-time HPS member passes away

Many of us just learned at last night’s print competition meeting that long-time HPS member Susan Saibara passed away April 10, 2011. Below is her obituary as it appeared in the Houston Chronicle:

Susan SaibaraSusan Joy Saibara, age 58, passed away on April 10, 2011 in Houston after a long courageous battle with complications from breast cancer. She is survived by her parents Edward and Jessie Saibara, brother Paul Saibara and sister Sandra Saibara. Also surviving is her long-time loyal friend and companion Owen Fisher who selflessly cared for her every day. She is also survived by her dear nieces Katie and Emily and nephew Andrew Saibara, as well as aunts, uncles and many cousins.

Susan graduated from Clear Creek High School in League City, Texas A & M University with a BA and an MBA from University of Houston. She worked for many years for Herman Miller as a sales rep to the federal government and military. She was passionate about scuba diving and underwater photography, for which she won many awards.

In lieu of flowers her family suggests donations to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center or Seven Acres Jewish Senior Care Services, which provided exceptionally kind compassionate care to Susan.

Burial will be a private family gathering. A memorial service celebrating Susan’s life will be announced at a later date.

Published in Houston Chronicle on April 15, 2011

Susan, you will be missed dearly.

April 2011 print competition

When? Tuesday, April 26, 2011 : 7-9 p.m.

Where? Tracy Gee Community Center

What? Join us for our monthly print competition. HPS members may bring up to two total prints in their respective group (bronze, silver or gold – new members begin in the bronze group). All members may enter the monthly Special Assignment but keep in mind that doing so still counts towards your two total prints.

This month’s Special Assignment theme is “Pinhole Photography.”

Afterwards, feel free to join us for the meeting after the meeting as many of us will drive a very short distance to La Madeleine French Country Cafe (10001 Westheimer Rd) for some social interaction and late night snack.

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