So, it’s been quite some time since I last wrote anything here for you all to enjoy. My sincerest apologies. I’m going to try to keep this thing up to date now that I’ve found myself with some more time on my hands.
Things have been pretty crazy here lately. As some of you know, and for you that don’t know, I’ve recently moved to Florida! I always knew I’d end up living here someday, I just wasn’t sure when or how. I’m down here doing photography full-time and basically living the dream!
Allow me tell you about my journey down here to the Sunshine State. It started a month before I actually left Indiana. I had quit my job at Don Hinds and started doing photography for friends and family back home who wanted some pictures taken. I decided to quit Don Hinds for a few reasons. The major reason was to be able to spend time with my friends and family before I moved. Another reason was I could make more money doing mini photo shoots for people than I could by spending 12 hours a day at a car dealership.
So that’s what I did; I quit. I posted it on my Facebook page, letting people know I was available to do pictures for them. My post resulted in a flood of messages from my friends and family inquiring about when they could get their pictures taken. My schedule quickly filled up and I couldn’t have been happier about that! I did several photo shoots before I left which gave me enough money to live on and get my truck in tip top shape before I left. You can see several pictures that I took on my Facebook page; Photos by Shue. Go ahead and check that out and give it a “like” if you haven’t already!
Fast forward to Sunday October 20th. I left Indiana at 6am and headed south. My first stop (aside from food and fuel) was Arkansas. Kelsie had messaged me and said she was interested in having some pictures taken of her and her son, Jensen. About ten hours after I set out, I arrived in Arkansas and met up with Kelsie at the Buffalo Wild Wings near her place. We shared some fried pickles and after she finished her drink we left there and headed out into the sticks!
This was definitely my kind of place. Off the beaten path, out past all the blacktop roads, down some red dirt roads, and down a long driveway. We walked all over the property and took pictures. My favorite pictures have always been the more candid moments. Not those posed, contrived shots that a lot of photographers stress over. I followed Kelsie and Jensen around and took photos when I felt it was the right moment. After a while I had amassed quite the collection of images. Here’s one of my favorites:
I was in Arkansas taking pictures of Kelsie until sunset. Once we couldn’t shoot anymore, it was time for me to continue on my journey south. My next stop was going to be in north Florida; Treasure Island. A fellow Corn Fed Spartan, Gretchen, had messaged me and wanted me to take some pictures of her and her husband, Tom.
On my way to Florida, my GPS routed me through the “great” state of Louisiana. I couldn’t see much of it since night had already fallen upon it. But I’m guessing there wasn’t much missed there anyway. One thing I did notice was the speed limits kept changing. There wasn’t much consistency in them at all. One minute the speed limit was 60mph and the next thing you know, it drops to 25mph. I had been doing alright with changing speeds until this one time. The speed limit was 60mph and it all of a sudden dropped to 25mph. I had my cruise control set at 65mph and once I saw the 25mph sign, I cancelled my cruise and started to slow down.
Apparently I hadn’t slowed quickly enough. The dark of night was illuminated with flashing blue lights. At first, being from Indiana, I thought it was a volunteer firefighter trying to get somewhere, so I pulled over. Much to my surprise though, it wasn’t a firefighter at all! It was a police officer! CRAP!!! He didn’t spotlight my mirror like they do back home. I sat there and watched him approach my truck. A rotund fella; about 350lbs worth of uniformed patrol officer. He came up to my window and asked the standard DUMB question, “Good evening, do you know why I pulled you over?” To which I replied, “No sir.” That’s when he informed me that he clocked me doing 46mph in a 25mph zone. He asked for my license and registration so I obliged his request and handed them over. He told me to sit tight as he walked back to his car. After a couple minutes he came back with a ticket book and told me to sign on the bottom line. He handed me a ticket and told me the information to pay it was on the back. The only thing on the back was an address and a phone number. I called the number the next day to find out the citation was for $206!
Anyway, after I got the ticket, I got out of Louisiana as quickly as (legally) possible! I had places to be, people to meet, and photos to shoot! I got to Florida pretty quickly; earlier than I had expected. Since I got here so early I decided to drive to my next destination; Treasure Island. I scoped it out, found the spot I was to meet up with Gretchen and her husband, Tom, then decided to go back to Tampa.
Once in Tampa I found a Walmart and parked the truck for the night. I wanted to visit the Yuengling Brewery once I woke up the next morning. I woke up around 7:30am and checked the Yuengling website to discover they didn’t open until 9am and that the first tour was set at 10am. I walked around Walmart for awhile and picked up a few items. I spent enough time there that once I was finished I headed straight to the brewery.
I got to the brewery a little before 9am and walked around and took some photos. There were a couple benches outside the main entrance, so I decided to just have a seat there until they opened. The first employees didn’t even get there until about 9:15am (slackers!) I went inside and looked around at the gift shop and the other things they had in the display cases. It was just the employees and me in there. I had already signed in for the tour and around 10am I walked back up to the main desk. The girl giving the tours asked if it was ok if we waited another 15 minutes or so to begin our tour to see if anyone else would show up. I told her that was fine. Fifteen minutes went by and nobody else showed up!
That’s when my private tour of the Yuenling Brewery began. My favorite part about the entire tour, besides it being private and the samples at the end, was the lab. I got to meet Roger and John, the two brewmasters responsible for coming up with their Oktoberfest brew. Those guys were awesome and they have some pretty sweet jobs! The tour was a lot shorter than the tours at Anheuser-Busch. I’m not sure if that’s because it was just me on the tour or if it was because it’s a smaller facility. Either way, it didn’t bother me much. It just meant free samples sooner! I got to sample all of their different brews including the last of the Oktoberfest. All I have to say is I am a HUGE fan of Yuengling – America’s oldest brewery!
After my tour and the free samples it was still only around noon. I decided to pick up some lunch then head back to Treasure Island to scout the area for good areas to shoot Gretchen and Tom’s photos. I drove down the road from where they were staying and found a park. It took me a little while to find the park and get back to their place. I met up with them and we headed down to the park I found.
We started the shoot around 3pm and we had hoped to be able to shoot until sunset. Luckily we started when we did and got some great shots. Just before the sun was supposed to set, it started raining. We still ended up getting some really good shots though and it was great to be able to meet Gretchen and Tom! Here’s one of my favorites from their shoot:
After spending several hours with Gretchen and Tom, it was time for me to continue on my journey south! I got to my place around 9pm. It rained like CRAZY after I left Treasure Island. Luckily all my things in the bed of the truck were in totes with the exception of one box that didn’t fare so well. The only thing in there that got ruined was my iPod though. Everything else survived the trip. I consider that a success, especially since I don’t really even use my iPod anymore.
I got to my new home, unloaded the totes into the house, and took a hot shower. It had been a few days since I had been able to take a shower like that and it was way overdue. I had been cleaning up with baby wipes on my journey. But it was well worth it and I wouldn’t change a single thing!
I’ve got more stories to share. But I’ll save those for next time!