Here’s what we’ve learned from Part 1:

  • I’m interested in vintage cameras
  • I love to read
  • I’m an optimist extraordinaire
  • I have a flying experience yet to share
  • I’m a runner

Can you remember how nervous you were on your first date?  There was an excitement mixed with a bit of anxiety?  You wondered where you might go but then realized, it didn’t really matter.  Because you understood, it wasn’t about the food – it was about being together.  When you discover that feeling, never let it go!

I say that because that’s the way I feel about photography, sometimes.  I spend a tremendous amount of time researching new places to photograph, when it’s really not about the places as much as just being out there with the camera.  The photograph below was taken a few steps from my office.  I didn’t have to research.  I didn’t need to plan.  It wasn’t about where I would go – it was all about going!  Many of you will remember this Iris, because I’ve posted it before.  It’s one of my favorite shots!

As you can easily see from my blog posts, I’m a person overflowing with stories. They’re mostly stories from my own personal life experiences.  My mother once said to me, “Son, you’ve lived a very interesting life.”  Wow!  That made me sound ancient!  You know, like all the best life events were behind me.  But that’s not what she meant at all.  She was talking about the interesting turns in my life.  Ah yes…the interesting turns in my life…

And that’s where we shall continue as we further reveal the person behind Photographyfree4all.


To the casual observer, this photo seems meaningless – mere office trinkets.  But as you’ve already learned, everything in my office tells a story…it’s a part of my life path.  And this is no different.

Growing up in a small mid-western town, there wasn’t many opportunities for air travel.  In the first place, it was very expensive.  And, most of the people from our family rarely ventured out of the state anyway.  So, there was really no need to fly.  However when I became the youngest person to ever hold an executive position with this particular national manufacturing firm, I found myself to be the first in my family (with the exception of my father who had served in the military) to experience flying!  And, oh what an experience it was!

I’ll never forget my first flight.  I was traveling to Decatur, Illinois to visit one of our manufacturing sites.  It seemed so strange to make this call: “Hello, Dave?  This is Steve.”  “Oh, Hi Steve.”  “Dave, I need to go to Decatur today.”  “When do you want to leave?”  “I need to leave in about an hour.”  “No problem.  I’ll have the plane fueled and ready.”

The company owned a very nice twin-engine Cessna that was at my disposal for most of my midwest business travel.  That plane became my office.  I regularly flew to Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Decatur, Illinois/Chicago, Illinois/Cincinnati, Ohio/Memphis, Tennessee/Oklahoma City, Oklahoma/and someplace in Missouri that I can’t even remember.  When I needed to travel to the east or west coast, I always flew commercial. 

That first flight to Decatur happens to be where I also received my first flight training.  It consisted of, “Hey Steve, would you like to fly this plane?”  “Uh, no!  I don’t think so!”  “No, really…”  The next 10 minutes were spent explaining some basic aeronautical functions, which led to this statement, “OK Steve, just follow that highway down below.”  To which I quickly replied, “Are you crazy?!”  But for the next 30 minutes, I was the pilot of that small craft hurtling through space! 

That was my life until 2 years later when that same small airplane with its pilot, the president of our company, one of our field supervisors, and myself, would find ourselves in an out of control free fall from 10,000 feet!  For what seemed to be forever, every briefcase, newspaper, book, and drink was glued to the ceiling of that aircraft due to the G-forces created by a plane in a death spin!  We had flown into the teeth of one of the largest, most powerful midwestern storms of that summer.  Struck by lightning and sent out of control by sudden wind shear, we seemed to have little hope.  But then just as we were seconds away from disaster, without human explanation the pilot was able to regain control and miraculously pull the plane out of that dive.  Similar to a senseless cartoon I’ve seen time and time again, our plane narrowly missed the ground as we were able to level off with less that 100 feet of altitude!  But, our instruments were dead.  And, we had no radio contact and no idea of our location or even more important, the location of the nearest airport.  With fuel and darkness both becoming increasingly crucial, we happened upon what looked to be a deserted black top road and set the plane down.  What was to me a great emergency landing (although extremely rough), was termed a crash landing by the FAA the next day.

We later discovered we were in southern Illinois – hundreds of miles from our predetermined course.

I was monumentally effected by the experience of that stormy night.  A few months after the accident, I left that position and moved to California.  It would be 5 years before I would fly again. 

That small airplane that sits on the bookcase to the left of my desk, serves as a reminder that I’ve overcome a fear that was born out of a near death experience on a rainy night somewhere in southern Illinois.

Though planning to continue on to another clue, I think that’s probably enough for today.  After all, I wouldn’t want to bore you to the point of no return.

So, I leave you to wonder about the photo below – the next in our Photographyfree4all revelation!

Thanks for stopping by.  Keep looking for the next installment.

What’s that?  What about the picture of the Eiffel Tower in today’s photo?  Hmmm…that’s a very good question.



~ by photographyfree4all on November 17, 2010.


  1. I love how you are doing this revelation – teasing us with great images 🙂

    Ps I would never have flown again after an experience like that 😦


  2. Thank you, Diane. I had wondered if it seemed a bit self-serving, but I hope not! I just considered it to be a more interesting way to introduce myself. Thanks for affirming that! I’m so glad you stopped by today.


  3. Amazing….God has a plan for you. And your just starting….Thanks for sharing that, about you. Who knew? Except you and the dear Lord :>) This testimony could help someone….I hope they read it.


  4. What an amazing moment that flight turn-around must have been. The picture of the plane on the mantelpiece sure holds a lot of significance for you–and now you have me very much curious about the Eiffel Tower. Looking forward to finding out more.


  5. Interesting story, glad you lived to tell it, curious what was the company you worked for, I live in the Midwest. be interested if I know them.


  6. Wow, what an amazing story and kudos to heading back into the air after only five years! The plane must serve as a great reminder that we can overcome our fears. Looking forward to more!


  7. What is shocking story about your flight in this Cessna plane! I’glad you survived – and that you told us the story. It is brave of you to tell the world about your personal experiences here 🙂


  8. You are a wonderful storyteller, Steve! You had me captivated at every word! I imagine you hugged those in your life a little bit tighter and a little bit longer after that harrowing, near-death experience. The fact that you lived to tell the tale is something to be thankful for every day! Looking forward to the next revelation….


  9. Elena, I always appreciate your comments. I have begun to realize it’s time to share some of my journey with everyone. I hope it helps in some way – even if it’s only to bring a quick smile to your face! Thanks for your encouragement.


  10. It was definitely a life-changing experience for me, Heather. I had quite a battle with flying for several years after that – but, thankfully I’ve overcome that anxiety. For that, I thank those who helped me along the way – and of course, my faith! I’m so glad you stopped by today! Thank you for sharing your comment with us!


  11. Hi, Donn! Believe me, you wouldn’t recognize the name of the company. It was a seemingly small company with its main offices in a small midwestern town in Iowa, but they did work all over the world. Here’s an interesting note, There is a very large company about 2-3 miles from my current office. All of their new manufacturing facilities were designed and constructed by our company, while I was there! In fact, I negotiated the main deal that resulted in our company being awarded the multi-million dollar contract. I think about that everyday as I drive by their facilities. Thanks for stopping by!


  12. Thank you, David. It has definitely been a process – but, one that has brought significant growth into my life. I’m glad you stopped by today, and added your comment to this post! Thanks!


  13. Wow! I’m glad I survived, too! There’s hardly a day that goes by where I don’t think back to that event in some way! Thank you for stopping by today, Truels! I’m so glad you added your comment to this post! I always appreciate your comments!


  14. Thank you very much, Tracy! Most of the time the words simply roll off of my tongue – the storytelling seems to be a natural part of who i am. It blends well with my new-found love for photography! I’m sure glad you stopped by today! Your comments are always much appreciated!


  15. What an amazing story! I’m not sure I’d ever be able to fly again after that type of experience. Wow….


  16. Wow! That plane fall must have been thrilling! I can’t think of anything that could give you more adrenalin! I completely sympathise with you for not having flown for 5 years after that!
    Personally, I’ve only ever flown a few times, mostly between Biarritz in France and Stansted in London, and also once to New Zealand, but only in commercial jets, and I’d really love to fly a cessna! I’ll always remember the feeling of the first take off, when you not so much leave the ground but the ground seems to fall away beneath you!
    Thanks for sharing your amazing experiences with us!


  17. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your comment, Miss Pearl! I never mentioned this in the blog post, but everyone waited for the plane to be repaired and then flew home later that week…everyone except me! I rented a car and drove! 🙂


  18. It’s funny, Kai, it seems like thrilling might describe the sensation today – but that day, it was harrowing! 🙂 Up to that point, I had flown every type of aircraft available – single engine Piper Cub, twin engine Cessna, all types of commercial planes (In fact, I once flew a 747 that only had 7 other passengers on board. They were transporting the plane from Chicago to Philadelphia and sold a few tickets to defray some of the costs, I guess. There were more flight attendants than passengers. Needless to say, the service was amazing on that flight!) I’ve flown in private lear jets, too! That was pretty exciting!

    That feeling when you take off is pretty exciting – I agree with that! Thanks for sharing this comment!


  19. Oh my friend, you do more then put a smile on my face. YOU INSPIRE….God Bless you….


  20. Thanks! You’re too kind.


  21. I avoided reading this post until I knew I would be safely settled on the ground for a while (having recently traveled to San Diego and back). I have a fear of flying but it wasn’t earned as yours was (and I have a rule that hearing or reading stories of near misses, bad flights, and plane crashes MUST be avoided while I’m facing up to my fears and traveling by plane). I am amazed and awed that you overcame that fear, especially after hearing your story! Very impressive and brave, if you ask me.

    I’m enjoying the way you are using little snippets via photographs to tell your story. 🙂


  22. So glad you made it home safely, Robin! It sounds like you had a great time in San Diego! Thank you for eventually stopping by and sharing your comment. I can relate to your apprehension with regard to flying! I’m having fun getting to know everyone here.


  23. Wow, that’s quite the amazing and terrifying story! Thanks for sharing the story – and your first name, Steve!


  24. Thanks Karen! I’m glad you often add your comments – they are always good and add to each post! I’ll be looking for more from you in the future! Thanks!


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