Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A published photographer

It is always exciting when you discover that somebody else finds your hobbies and interests as cool as you do. And it's even more exciting when they like it so much they want to use your product in their project. I guess you could say I've had a fair amount of recognition over the years for different things, most of it revolving around the commentary I write every week though. If you do a google search of Harry Blalock, it will either show results linking me to the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, my commentary - Food For Thought, or my morning talk show. That's all good and fine, but somewhat expected, after all it's what I do for a living.

But recently I got an e-mail that really got me excited, no that kind of e-mail. This was from respected Marine Biologist, underwater photographer and writer Rudie Kuiter. Rudie had seen some of my pictures of a couple certain nudibranchs on a website, and he wanted to use them in a book he is publishing. That is one of the highest compliments a hack photographer such as myself can get is to have a noted professional underwater photographer actually want to include some of your pictures in a book he is publishing. If you'd like to see a couple of the pictures that will be in Rudie's book, you can see them on these links:

http://www.saipandiver.smugmug.com/gallery/2904538#156318278

http://www.saipandiver.smugmug.com/gallery/2904538#156348356

Part of the reason he was so interested is that there just aren't many pictures available of these two types of nudibranchs. They were only discovered and named back in the early 1990's, and there were only a couple known pictures of them from that time until 2000. And even up to today, there just really aren't that many pictures of them out there to choose from. So when I put up a couple nice, clean digital shots of them he was interested. The book is going to be called "Nudibranchs of the World" and it is by Rudie Kuiter. Though it's probably not a book that will be sitting in every bookstore, it is one that will most likely be owned by any divers with an interest in nudibranchs, and it will include several pictures with an acknowledgement from Harry B. Blalock. No I'm not making any money from it, I'm not getting a cut of the royalties or anything like that, for me it is satisfaction enough knowing that I actually managed to contribute something that will have a lasting value, and will be used and appreciated by many people.

Something tells me that we all have things like that, things that would be valued and appreciated if only the right people were to see them. I think one of the biggest limiting factors for us is that we don't think anybody else would appreciate the things we do, but you just might be surprised. I would encourage you to follow your dreams, put your pictures out there, or your writing, or whatever it is that you do, and see who else might think it's really cool too! You just never know who might see it, and what might happen!

This whole thing also makes me realize just how little we know about this earth we live on, and how much there is yet to explore and learn. Here this nudibranch, or sea slug, wasn't even known before 1993, and here it is only 14 years later and I have over 200 pictures of them. I seriously doubt that it's because it didn't exist before that, but I'm guessing people either weren't looking in the right places, or weren't paying any attention when they did see them, or just didn't care. I'm telling you, there are opportunities everywhere. Do you have your eyes open? Will you know the opportunities when you see them? And what will you do with them once you discover them?

Teaching an old dog new tricks

I guess I should start out by introducing myself, I'm Harry Blalock, the guy with the shaved head on the left. That's my beautiful wife Kelli next to me, and as you can see by the wrinkles at the corners of our eyes, we have reached that point in life referred to as middle aged. In my case the truth is it's probably way farther than middle age for me, but that's purely speculation on my part. Kelli and I live on the island of Saipan, which is the capitol island of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Our daughter Sarah lives with us currently, and our son Josh is in the Air Force in Texas. We have lived on the island of Saipan for 11 years now, and it has indeed become home for us.

I manage 2 radio stations on island, KZMI - 103.9 FM and KCNM - 101.1 FM, I've been with them for 6 1/2 years now, amazing how quickly time flies. Kelli is the Executive Assistant to David M. Sablan, the President of Century Insurance, Vice President for the Tan family's hotels, and one of the best known people in Micronesia.

Writing and having an online presence are nothing new to me, but I have been holding out for a long time about starting a blog. I've been doing more and more online recently though, and it has all seemed to be pushing me in this direction. Of course I've been putting my weekly commentary, Food For Thought - www.chamorro.com/fft online for nearly 7 years now. But that was pretty easy, I wrote my commentary anyway for the air, so now I was just posting it to somebody else's website.

Then I started getting into underwater photography, and I quickly realized that storing all those pictures on your computer could take over all available hard drive space in no time, so I had to find an alternate storage option. That wound up taking me to Smugmug on the recommendation of a friend of mine. I decided to get the Professional level of Smugmug, which gave me unlimited storage of all my video's and pictures, and also let me set my own pricing for them in case people wanted to buy the pictures online. But having a website isn't much good if nobody ever sees it or visits it, so I quickly started learning about the importance of marketing it and building customer traffic. You can take a look at some of my pics of Saipan and my underwater shots at www.saipandiver.smugmug.com And yes, if you really fall in love with some of the underwater shots, you can buy them at reasonable prices right off the website. The quality of the pictures is awesome, I ordered a bunch just to make sure.

The next logical step seemed to be to start a blog, as they seem to be amazingly popular these days. It's a great way of helping to market my pictures, but I believe it will also come to be much more. I have done journals a couple times in my life, once on a trip to Bali. I still have those journals and read them periodically, it's like taking that trip all over again, all the sudden I'm magically transported back to Bali and can almost see and touch all the different things that impressed me while I was there. I guess I'm looking at this blog to do the same sort of thing, act as a kind of journal for my life, to keep track of what I'm doing, what I'm thinking, and where I'm going. It's always good to have a record of it, because I'm finding that the older I get, the worse my memory becomes, and I'm forgetting some very cool aspects of my bizarre life. At least this way I should be able to have some kind of record from this point forward of my thoughts as I go along.

It's hard to say what I may wind up writing about here, as this is really probably more for my benefit than yours, but you're welcome to take periodic peeks inside my head if you'd like, and I promise to throw up some cool pictures on a regular basis.

Feel free to make comments or to contact me if I talk about something of interest to you. And with that, I think I'll say so long for now.