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Nov 2011 cover image

Picture This: View From the Porch

Retiree’s morning photo sessions reflect the nature of each day.


By Earl Nottingham

You won’t find the landscape photographs of Janet Stockard hanging in the fine art galleries of New York, Dallas or Sante Fe.

However, the simple images created from the retiree’s back porch with a simple point-and-shoot digital camera represent one aspect of the art that eludes even the most seasoned pro — the simple luxury of taking time to savor the natural world as it passes before the lens.

While many professional photographers travel the world in pursuit of the next image, Stockard’s simple objective is to photograph each East Texas sunrise as she sees it from her back porch and to share the images with her friends. Rising early, she’s typically on the porch before dawn with hot coffee and a comfortable chair, ready to document the rapidly changing hues and cloud structures as the sun comes up.

Each morning’s light is unique in its artistry, and no two days or minutes look the same. As more light becomes available after sunup, her camera turns to the wildlife such as woodpeckers, hummingbirds, butterflies and deer that are frequent visitors to the yard. Before the dew has had time to dry, she is ready to share the experience with her friends through Facebook and email.

Soon after Janet and her husband, Bill, retired from an International Harvester dealership in McKinney, they moved to 35 acres of rolling East Texas farmland and pines near Mount Pleasant.

Her love of the area’s natural beauty began with a visit to nearby Daingerfield State Park years before, and her involvement in photography took hold soon after she moved there. What began as her photographic documentation of the construction of their new home soon transitioned to an appreciation of the surrounding landscape and nature’s daily surprises that she found around each corner.

According to Stockard, “With a camera you look at things differently and begin to notice the little things you might overlook otherwise. And the enjoyment is free — all you have to do is open the door and step outside. It doesn’t cost a penny, and best of all, you can share it. If I can put a smile on one person’s face each day with my pictures and encourage them to open their eyes to the beauty right in front of them, then I’ve had a good day. It’s a small way to share the peace and contentment I’ve found in my life.”

While generations of photographers have sought inspiration from the old masters and contemporary artists, the simple images created by Janet Stockard from a back porch in the cool morning air and shared with friends are inspirational in their simplicity and serve as a humble reminder of the reason we came to love photography in the first place.

Please send questions and comments to Earl at earl.nottingham@tpwd.state.tx.us.


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