Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fremont Street Experiences

by Lori Gebbie

Robert and I were asked to help out a friend with her business. She runs a “spotter” company, watching a parking lot and having vehicles towed that park there without permits. It was an interesting experience, sitting in that cold parking lot throughout the night, watching the neon burn until morning. I was glad we were able to do it together; it allowed us to sleep in shifts and still capture a slice of life that one normally would not see.

Tourists park on this lot, for a fee, and walk across to the hub attraction area of Fremont, the Experience. They see the fancy lights, hear the barkers calling for them to enter their casinos for a “sure win” or a “safe bet”, the street vendors and the street performers with hats in front, collecting donations for their performances, the old neon signs from old Las Vegas, revamped with a new life here in this small museum area. But if you ask me, they are missing the real experience, the true to life experience, of the broken, the scared, the hungry, the homeless. This is where the real story is at. This is the true hustle and grind of the city, where the “real” people are at, the “bad” side of town. And for all that we are warned to keep away from here, to not be around the vagrancy, the crime, the poor and pitiful, we see a huge slice of humanity, as the homeless stop and offer a good word to each other, often sharing their meager possessions with those who are more in need than they are. A clean tissue, a sip of water, a smile. Once in a while, one will be fortunate enough to afford a cup of steaming hot coffee, and they eagerly approach their friends and everyone gets a sip. A shred of warmth, of kindness, reminding themselves that they are still human and have dignity. This is the part that is hardest for us to watch, as we put ourselves in their place, and wonder where our life would be if we were forced into such circumstances. How would we be faring, in a cold city, living on the streets, under a pile of newspapers we were fortunate enough to find? Where would we find the strength to continue going, to keep moving for warmth, to hope that, one day, we would once again be able to live like “real people” again?

I can only wonder at how they got here, got to this dismal place in their lives, where they lost their way in “normal” society and had to take to the streets. What drove them from leading productive lives into the madness of street wandering and scrounging for a slice of the sanity they once knew? In this city, it is easy to imagine a few of them took a chance in the casinos and gambled away their lives, pushing themselves into an unrecoverable amount of debt, fourth and fifth mortgages on their homes, pushing their families and loved ones aside as they risked it all in hopes of hitting the jackpot, pawning and selling pieces of their lives to finance their next parlay, their next hand at the table, that last quarter into the machine. And one day, they look around them and realize they’ve lost their jobs, their families, and all they have left are the clothes on their backs as they are left to wander the streets aimlessly. But some were put here for other reasons. Some are returned veterans, so disturbed by the combat and stresses they endured while fighting for our Country, that they can no longer fit into a normal society, having seen too much and lived too hard. Night terrors, horrid flashes of the realities they faced while in the service, disconnected from the fa├žade that most of us live our lives in. Misunderstood, they have snapped and found solace in their own little worlds, where they can create their own boundaries, yet still chained to the nightmares they endured. Some have also been hit by hard economic times, the rising levels of layoffs and spiraling interest rates. Credit cards offered like candy with huge ballooning interest rates, forcing a level of debt upon them that could never be caught up to.

We live in a very twisted society right now. There are so many people who feel they are owed things, and so they live that way, always taking but never returning. They run up their credit cards to the maximum limits, then apply for another to feel like they have money again, never worrying about the consequences they are forcing themselves into, always imagining they deserve to have the latest and greatest out on the market.

I wonder where people are going to land in the next few years, as our Nation continues to struggle and grow under the recession we are in. But, this is part of living, our experiences giving us hope and direction, if we keep focused. For most, these are just stories to be read and acknowledged, but for others, there is no way to go but up. We wish everyone well in their own personal journey, and hope we all come out of it on top.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Our Zazzle Journey

We are Stock photographers, and were looking for other ways to expand and grow our small little company, when we found a merchandising site called Zazzle. So Robert decided to give it a try. But I was so bogged down with stock and sales that I didn’t have time to really look into it. He put up a few images and just let them roll on the site, and we didn’t get much response on it, so we kind of forgot it for a while. Then, in October, I was reading forums and looking around for a new project. I found the store again, and looked deeper into it. This was just what I was looking for! We created the images, and sold them online, but it was always just a piece of an end product, never the finished item. Here, I could use our images to make fun things, and actually put words to our art! I had some favorite images; I always thought they would look good on greeting cards or even on tee-shirts. So, with that in mind, I let myself wander through our catalogue and chose some pictures to work with.

Some of our landscapes were quite pretty, and we have several images that I always imagined hanging in our home. So, of course, I had to make some posters of our art. One of my favorite series is The Man series. I’m not sure if it’s because they are fine art nudes, photos of my husband, or if it’s because of the emotions we felt as we were shooting them. They are classic poses, images that are rarely seen anymore in current art. We wanted to show an emotional side, the fragile side that all men hide deep down. I think we did a pretty good job of it. They are available in most of our current product line.

Make personalized gifts at Zazzle.

Our youngest model, Lauranne, is such a lively spark! She was just a tiny baby when she first hit our stock sites as a model, and we shot her every few months for her first 2 years. Then, a few months before her 3rd birthday, she was diagnosed with AML Leukemia. It’s been a very rough road, watching her progress through her disease, but she’s on her very last round of chemo right now, and is just about cancer free!! Her story has been documented by her mom at her caring bridge page, and with Kae’s permission, we set up a line of products for those who want to donate and spread the hope that little Lauranne has given to us all! Team Lauranne products are available at our store.

Make a personalized gift at Zazzle.

Love in 3D
Robert also started working more with his 3D modeling, and of course, we had to do hearts, since Valentine’s Day is fast approaching! So he made up some 3D heart images and off I went!! I have a few lines; one is playful and flirty, like the little conversation hearts you find all around. One line is a bit more… subtle. I call it my “Collared” line. I also have a “Hearts and Paws” line for our animal lovers. From funny to serious, we’ve got a bit of a selection to choose from.

Red heart with words of love, affection, and friendship. See more of our Words of the Heart line below!

Shop for a personalized gift at Zazzle.

Fun lifestyle products. Bring a small smile to your face every time you see these! Show your collared with subtlety. See our other "Collared" products here!

Design personalized gifts at Zazzle.

Other Heart and Paw Items:

Create a personalized gift at Zazzle.

These are just a few of the things that I love the most. I hope you find the time to take a look and see what we have to offer. From iPad/iPod cases to keychains, we’ve tried our best to cover it all. Easy to personalize or change around as you wish, these are high end products from Hanes, Keds and other quality lines. Of course, if you can’t find what you need, send us a message. We’d be happy to get it created just for you!