Celebrating the life of a good friend who’s passed

Thank you, John, for providing me with today’s post. I will cherish this.

A View From The Middle (Class)

This is one of those articles I haven’t wanted to write, but the need to do so still exists.  My family lost a good friend today.  However, the belief is still there that the parting need not be sorrowful, it’s more a matter of time until we meet again.

James Cantrell died this morning in Florida after a long and agonizing yet still courageous battle with cancer.  Those are hard words to write.  They’re words that bring about anger — aimed directly at the illness that took James’ life, and the lives of too many others.

But, knowing James, he wouldn’t want us to be sad for long.  He’d want us to celebrate the life that he led.

In many ways, it was the kind of life everyone could take a piece from and use as an example on how to live it to the fullest, and to show how…

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Together as One

“A miracle is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A miracle is when one plus one equals a thousand.”
― Frederick Buechner, The Alphabet of Grace

Today is an important day, both symbolically and personally. Today, my partner of 21 years and I are being married. By the time this gets published this morning, we should be at cruising altitude en route to the ceremony in Washington, DC. And although cancer has spent the last 5 years trying to destroy us, it has instead brought us closer together; it has revealed to me the joy inherent in serving and caring for the one I love. I am excited and overflowing with pride at the step we shall take today. I am a blessed and fortunate man.

"Together as One" [Click on the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/2.4 at 1/4000 sec., 85 mm

“Together as One” [Click on the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/2.4 at 1/4000 sec., 85 mm

I’m still hoping for your vote in the 2013 COOL PHOTOBLOG AWARDS. Remember, there’s nothing to fill out, no gimmicks, no requests for your email address – just a simple click and you’re done. THANK YOU for your support!


I’m also on Instagram at @EarlHarrisPhoto, where I am posting photos captured and edited solely on my iPhone. If you like cat photos, I seem to be posting a lot of them there… #instagramcats

Sharp Shadows

And so, in one form or another, the witch hunt goes. We hate people “because,” we say, they are dirty, stupid, perverted, immoral…. They might be exactly what we say they are. Or they might not. That is totally irrelevent, however, because we hate them only if we ourselves unknowingly possess the despised traits ascribed to them. We hate them because they are a constant reminder of aspects of ourselves that we are loathe to admit.
― Ken Wilber, No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth

"Sharp Shadows" [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/1.8 at 1/1500 sec., 85 mm

“Sharp Shadows” [Click the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/1.8 at 1/1500 sec., 85 mm
Purchase a print (traditional, canvas or metal) here.


Please don’t forget to cast your vote for “I Shutter at the Thought!” in the 2013 COOL PHOTOBLOG AWARDS. There’s nothing to fill out, no gimmicks, no requests for your email address – just a simple click here and you’re done. THANK YOU for your support!

I’m now on Instagram at @EarlHarrisPhoto, where I am posting photos captured and edited solely on my iPhone. I find this tends to include quite a few cat photos…

If Cancer Had A Face

Is this the face that haunts us?
He that invades our lives with pain, heartbreak and fear?
He that seeks to destroy our future? A future once so bright and secure.
Is this the face that takes it away;
Takes everything, leaving only Love to stand naked and alone?
You cannot create, so you have to destroy.
You deceive, driving others to chaos.
And still your face pales next to the face of Love.
You destroy the body, but you can’t degrade Love.
We’ve seen evidence of Greater Promises, and it has changed us.
Truth, Faith and Grace will take us through to a better Day,
When Love shall be renewed and together we can acknowledge:
The price was cheap enough.

"Ghoul" [Click on the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/3.3 at 1/2000 sec., 85 mm

“Ghoul” [Click on the image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/3.3 at 1/2000 sec., 85 mm


We learned this last Thursday that James’ cancer, which was in full remission, has returned. Despite James’ horrible pain and discomfort, we have plans to travel to DC soon to be married by Rev. Cedric Harmon. I am flying up tomorrow to apply for our license, then there’s the obligatory 3-5 day wait for turnaround and processing. Sadly, Florida will not acknowledge our Civil Rights and there is no place closer we can go to get this done. We are thus forced to endure the expense and hardship of travel. After 21 years of committing our lives to God and each other, we deserve this happiness amidst this hell. James wants to ensure that no matter what happens, we can receive the benefits we are entitled to by right and by Liberty. We humbly and gratefully request your prayers for healing and strength to get us through these difficult days. Thank you and God bless. — Earl

The Darkroom: A Luddite’s Tale

I got my first digital camera from my father in 2007: a Nikon D100. I have to admit I was slow to pick it up and try it. It was a difficult transition for me, since my love for photography began in the darkroom and not behind a camera. Photography was supposed to include a dimension of wonderful chemically smells and the joy of lost weekends in the darkroom. And there is that magical span of minutes when a print sits in developer: you watch it materialize on the paper you carefully and purposefully painted with light from the enlarger. I wasn’t ready to let go and leave those things behind. You see, I grew up enjoying there always being a dedicated darkroom in any home we ever lived in. My father is a man of few hobbies, but he always made sure the one he still loves most was accommodated.

My own love for the darkroom has never waned, though its accessibility has. When James was diagnosed with cancer last year, we swiftly vacated our Utah home and moved to Florida to seek more hopeful treatment options and cut the distance between us and our families. I can still hear the hollow sound of the basement darkroom door closing as I pulled it shut for the last time on that Wednesday morning in September. The equipment I have continued to use since childhood – including the still-perfect stainless steel 35 mm film tank I learned to wind film on about 43 years ago – sits packed away in boxes. I wonder when – perhaps if – the darkroom will ever see the light again.

Necessity has a way of increasing our appreciation for just about anything. The process doesn’t smell the same or make my fingers slippery with developer, but I can admit I love digital photography, too.

Nikon D100, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/250, 80 mm

[Click image to expand/shrink its size.]  ©2007, Nikon D100, ISO 200, f/5.6 at 1/250, 80 mm

Tomorrow’s post will be No. 5 in the “Faces of Kissimmee” series. See you then.


Save on memory cards at AdoramaCompact Flash

Last Stand in Stockton – Revisited

Last September, I posted a photo I had taken in July just before the onset of the whirlwind that snatched James and me out of Utah and landed us in Florida. I wasn’t really happy with the photo, but in a rush to try to get something on my blog I threw up an “as is” version anyway. With James’ miracle of healing and pronouncement of being cancer-free despite an original terminal prognosis, our lives are no longer being primarily spent at Orlando’s M. D. Anderson Cancer Clinic. I am thus finding time to blog again on a more regular schedule.

One of the things I’ve been looking forward to was revisiting that photo – one of the first I captured with my pawn shop find of a Mamiya 645 Super medium format film camera. Here it is; I’m much happier with it now. I hope you like it, too.

Mamiya 645 Super, Ilford FP4 Plus ISO 125 film, 50 mm (I failed to record the shutter speed and f/stop used.)

Mamiya 645 Super, Ilford FP4 Plus ISO 125 film, 50 mm (I failed to record the shutter speed and f/stop used.)

As a side note, the period of inactivity on this blog understandably diminished its following. If you like this post, I would be extremely grateful if you’d please consider sharing it with others. And please come back again!


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Stepping Forward

I received an unexpected email this week from a wonderful friend that has inspired me. She is standing up for what she believes is right by speaking out for those whose voices have been silenced. With her permission, I am sharing that email with you. Aside from being a means to convey some remarkable news with you about my partner’s cancer, it’s a touching example of how our suffering has the potential to help others. It’s further evidence that we can never know how lives may be touched by our own experiences. It’s further evidence of the power of love.

Nikon D300, ISO 500, 1/125 sec at f/22, Nikkor 35 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 500, 1/125 sec at f/22, Nikkor 35 mm

Each month we attend a meeting for our local Scouting District. Tonight, at this months meeting you can only guess what was the topic that has all the Bible-beaters in a tizzy – that Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is considering changing the membership standards to remove restrictions on sexual orientation. One of the speakers was our District Executive, Guy – an employee of the Atlanta Area Council. Guy spoke briefly on the topic basically telling us that nothing would change until BSA’s final decision is made in a few months. But, the Atlanta Area Council wanted feedback from the local Scout leaders. Guy also told us that he would be glad to listen to any input from us leaders…no matter which side of the issue that we we on. I did take him up on that offer.

I said “Guy, I would like to tell you a story about one of my oldest and dearest friends – a man that I have known for more than 30 years. A man of sterling character and high standards. A man with a very strong faith in God. A man that can be described with the words from the Scout Law – Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent….all the values that I want my son to have. A truly GOOD man. Last year I got some devastating news – that he had cancer of the throat. I was absolutely heartbroken that we were going to lose such a good person to such a horrible disease. Then last month, I got a phone call and when I saw the name on the Caller ID my heart stopped, my throat tightened up and my eyes filled with tears. I didn’t want to take the call because I didn’t want to hear the news that I had been fearing and dreading. The expressions on my face had to have been hysterically comical when I was told that an entire team of doctors was flabbergasted, they had NEVER seen a tumor of this type respond to chemotherapy, but his tumor was GONE! Yes, GONE! It can only be described as a MIRACLE! No other explanation – an outright miracle! He was healed by the mercy of God because God deemed him worthy of life….but he can’t be a member of BSA because he’s gay. It’s an archaic and stupid rule that HAS to change and the sooner the better. Please feel free to use my name and tell your Council Executive that both me and my husband are most emphatically in favor of a change in the membership standards.”

Poor Guy – he just stood there all wide-eyed and could only say “Wow! Thanks for sharing that with me….and I’m glad that your friend is going to be OK.” I said “I’m thrilled that he’s going to live longer, but he has always been “OK” and it’s high time that BSA thinks so, too!”

I love you both and am proud to call you my friends.

– Sarena

Isn’t that just awesome? Sometimes you’ve just got to be willing to step forward.

Struggling for Hope

Nikon D300, ISO 500, 85mm, f/5.6, 1/25 sec

Nikon D300, ISO 500, 85mm, f/5.6, 1/25 sec

Broken and torn, shattered
shards of dreams and promises litter the floor
inflicting new pain as we step through the memories
progress, hindered by repetition of the unknown and the unwanted.

Agony, punctuated by tears
what happened? why this? why him? please wake up!
this isn’t where we’re supposed to be
remorse for what has been lost, fear of what is to come.

The loved and the loving
stand helpless and unappeased
watching lives dissolving in torrents of wet grief
mouths incapable of finding words to match the depth of the heart.

Trust, believe and fight, fight, fight
there is a plan, a purpose not yet revealed
counsels echo through the hours in the struggle for hope
and he reaches out to touch the hem of a beautiful cherished robe.

– December 10, 2012


Last August, on the eve of my birthday, we learned that my partner of 20 years had a new battle with cancer to fight. Having already been through 5 surgeries over the course of 4 years, we thought we had passed through this valley once and for all when he was pronounced cancer-free following radiation treatments ending in October, 2011. A PET scan reiterated this finding in February, 2012.With the August pronouncement of a new tumor in a new location, we packed our house and moved across the country to be closer to family. Perhaps you have noticed that this had a significant impact on my ability to post on my blog until now. With computer and camera gear now accessible at last, I shall strive to update it more regularly, occasionally sharing moments of this journey into hell and perhaps finding a bit of catharsis in the process.

Pride is Humane

Today marks the last post in this week’s series from the 2012 Utah Pride parade and festival (if you’ve missed them, start here). It is, therefore, with great pride that I devote today’s post to the wonderful staff and volunteers at the Humane Society of Utah and their presence and participation.

My regular readers know of my commitment to working with HSU to promote pet adoptions and serve adoptable pets through my photography. There are so many ways you can help, too – and many of them don’t require your valuable  time! Please contact or visit HSU to find out what you can do to help.

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
― Mother Teresa

Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.
― Stephen R. Covey


Thank you for stopping by I Shutter At The Thought!
Please come again tomorrow for another new post and photo(s)
and thanks for sharing this post with others.

Earl Harris Photography is proud to serve and photograph Utah’s GLBT community and its supporters.

The Answer to Difference

Difference is of the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.
– John Hume

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/800 sec. at f/7.1, 90 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/800 sec. at f/7.1, 62 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/320 sec. at f/10, 20 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/320 sec. at f/4.5, 18 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/640 sec. at f/11, 18 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/160 sec. at f/18, 36 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/125 sec. at f/9.0

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/800 sec. at f/7.1, 46 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, 1/125 at f/32, 65 mm

Are you pictured in today’s post?
Please  contact me if you would like a free full-sized
digital copy of your photo.

Earl Harris Photography is proud to serve and photograph Utah’s GLBT community.


Thank you for leaving your comments below.
Be sure to stop back by tomorrow for the last
post to feature photos from Utah Pride.