Intro by Skip Cohen

Yeah, it’s a travel log about a part of Suzette’s trip to Ecuador, but one of the things I love about her is how she finds a slightly different perspective on each journey in life. She takes applications she uses in imaging and applies them to the people she meets along the way.

I bold-faced her last two paragraphs, so you’d consider reading them twice. Unfortunately, we’re all in such a hurry that we often miss the best part of life – getting to know the people around us.

One of the things I missed most over the last few years were catching up to people at the various conventions. Well, things are slowly coming back, and as you get back out in the world, a great photography workshop or show is all about the people you meet – building your network and taking the time to help each other.

Suzette is a talented artist, but she’s an even more amazing friend. If you’re at a convention and she’s speaking, run – don’t walk to grab a seat.

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As we were driving along the old road through Peguche, Ecuador, we passed through a cute little neighborhood of houses and cottages alongside a huge expanse of corn and looming mountains ahead. I snapped a picture out the window of what looked like a façade, I think. It looked like a house at first but more like a glorified fence. Certainly, it was meant to keep someone in or out. Not very welcoming, and just a glimpse in passing. I felt good about catching the setting sun through the window doing a drive-by shot.

We pulled over a half block away to photograph a few dogs on a roof, the corn field, and an amazing view. Wow.

…But there was something curious about that “fortress” and I wanted to see what was inside this protected compound. No hints were visible from the outside; just drab olive trees, overgrown vines, and old cement.

But as I walked up I could see a bit of green- and when I was close enough to look through the window frame I was greeted with this amazing view. WHOA- what a contrast. What seemed foreboding at first whiz-by, turned to welcoming when I walked up in peace. #sweet

I feel like there are lots of things we judge harshly or don’t expect much from as we whiz by on our busy ways…. Businesses, parks, alleys, people. Yes, people. We buzz right by and just assume lots of things (or don’t really expect much from them) at first glance. But, if we take the time to see- to look them in the eyes, to learn a little about them, to see past the rough protective barriers… there are lovely gardens, peaceful retreats, calm and lovely invitations, and beauty we probably didn’t expect to find.

Maybe today we can slow down for a few minutes and SEE. Stop and walk up to someone or someplace with no agenda or judgment, just curiosity and expectation. (good expectation). Perhaps we will be pleasantly surprised with what we find within.

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