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The Magician

Juan Carlos can turn back time or preserve it.
by J.B. Blocker
  Juan Carlos is my friend. He is a very close friend. In terms of a long friendship, we have only known each other since 2009. That would be 5 years. In terms of the time we have spent together, we have years between us. Years of struggles and triumphs. Years of dashed dreams and disappointments. 

  But those were also years of support and faith in each other. They have been years of encouragement from both sides. And especially they have been years when each came to the aid of the other without hesitation. In those terms, our friendship has been a lifetime.

  Juan is a dreamer. I am a dreamer. He is a visionary. So am I. Juan is a photographer ‘for life’!

  But he is more than a photographer as most of us think of such professionals. A good photographer knows their equipment. They know light and height and distance and angles. They can crop and make adjustments on the front end and on the back end. They may even photo shop or digitally enhance with varying levels of skills. But they don’t all have a driving echo to devote any more time than simple due diligence requires.

They don’t have the memory of Juan’s beloved mother Cecilia that guides his spirit. They don’t have the life’s lessons that whisper to him to respect the moment and the subject of his lens. They don’t see his working moments  through his heart.

  Juan talks about what drives him when he sits at his computer and deftly manipulates the photos before presenting the subject with the final draft. 
  His mother was a Colombian beauty queen. But she was also a woman of joy and charisma that left people with a lasting memory of her spirit and her sparkling eyes. She was always impeccably groomed as were all of her eight children. She was an artist in her own right.

Juan Carlos has a special feature he calls a Mollage. I playfully teased him that it wasn’t a word. But to him it is a word. It is because it is inspired by his mother and there are not words that can describe what he does with the spirit that drives him. He is known for taking the collection of photos of a wedding or a political campaign or a person or families life and presenting a story. A Mollage.

  I make up words myself. As I write along, I have often looked at a word that came tumbling from my fingers and questioned its origin. But if it gets my meaning across, then it is a word. It is my own language. Like Knowledgeability! I like that word even if it isn’t in the dictionary. This is a perfect word to describe what my friend exhibits when he is playing with enhancements and what we might call collages. He turns digital enhancement into an art form.

  “My mother would gather many photographs and cut them and trim them and then place them in just the right angle in just the right places to make a photographic collection become its own story.” reflects the gentle soul that speaks from Juan’s mouth. “She would move those photos around and place them just so until she was satisfied that they made a collective work that spoke to you and made sense of someone’s life. 
  I watch with wonder as she became lost in the vision that only she could see. And when the work was done, it all made sense. The story of the odd assortment of heads and bodies and flowers and pets and scenery became a masterpiece. I am driven by that passion that takes as much time as it takes to make the finished piece feel as right as it looks.’

  Such was my experience when I spent an afternoon with Juan that turned into late night while we prepared a very important photo shoot for my new adventure. By the time we were through, we had turned it into my own masterpiece that I expect not only be seen by the country, but well beyond our red, white, and blue borders.

The Caffeine Cowboy Coffee Company

  That’s me. The Caffeine Cowboy! And I am preparing to launch a stunning display of coffees that will stand out and grab the attention of shoppers. I could see it quite clearly. My partners couldn’t really see it through my words. 
  Juan sat with me for hours as we chose from a few dozen photographs of myself and the charismatic Cami Dean. It is apparent that she makes me look all the better with her presence. 
  I wanted art that would draw you in and make you have to take my vision home. I wanted to create celebrity status. I wanted to be recognizable to the world as The Caffeine Cowboy. I intend on becoming the best known coffee personality in the world and I want people to want to buy that coffee for gifts and for tourist who crave a taste of Texas. 
  The rest is up to me. I know, if they try my coffee, they are mine!

   By the time we were finished with the design and after I had sent copies out to my friends and colleagues for review, what I heard back was music to my artistic soul. One friend comments, “I don’t drink coffee, but I would buy those two cans just because of the labels!” Another says, “J.B., you may have just created the coffee gift of the year!” 

  Cami is a recent U.S. Congressional candidate and currently hosting her own radio program every Monday at 1pm on 1190am. She began showing the labels to her network and called me giggling with delight at the responses. Her friends who knew nothing of our project want the coffee now! They want those cans. They are ready to buy! Now!

   I love it when she giggles. It’s a very good sign.

  But achieving that vision was not as easy as posing with a beautiful woman for some photos and then sticking them on a label. You see, neither of us is perfect. Me especially! 
  It is hard to take a bad picture of Cami but still, angles and light can play funny tricks. High resolution brings out little details that are unexpected. As beautiful as our lady is, the twist of her body left some odd bulges on one of her dresses. Out of place hair stands out even more when nearly everything else is perfect. 
  Her blue eyes did not sparkle the way I know them to due to the overall light effects. Some of the fringe of her dress had been pulled by her sitting position and stood out in the still of the frame. I wouldn’t have noticed until Juan blew the photo up and scanned our images inch by inch.

  Juan shows me some places where after removing the blue screen we had posed in front of, there were little edges that became barely evident.   
  “You see that little place where I removed the blue screen and you see some shaded areas? Real pros can see those and know that there have been modifications. Then they wonder what else was done. I don't want that!.  
  If I take 10, 20, or more pounds off of a person I don’t want their image to be questioned.”


  And then there is me! I hadn’t slept well the night before and there were bags that shouldn’t be there. My mustache and beard didn’t have the clean lines under the scrutiny of the high res. camera and the revealing lights. 
  On a favorite shot, my shirt color rode too high and subsequently the suit collar was out of place. And worst of all to me, my beloved Stetson had moved off center on my favorite photo. Oh no! We are going to have to have another shoot and getting us all together very soon is going to cause a delay I can’t afford.

  Juan is reassuring me that those are not issues. I watch in amazement as he cuts here and paste there until my Stetson is properly in place! My hazel eyes look dark in the picture but he brings back the greens and they look like what I see in the mirror. 
  My beard and mustache are now trimmed. The wild curls of my hair that have bounced out of place are gone. The indention's where my glasses sit on my bridge when I wear them disappear. A patch of my beard on my neck that I missed when I was shaving is gone. I am certainly not handsome but I look good! I am now put together neat and trimmed and tidy. I am ready for prime time!

  The camera is unforgiving, but Juan Carlos saw my vision, and with his mother’s inspiration guiding his hands and his art, he washed away my sins.

  Get ready world! The Caffeine Cowboy rides again!

  P.S. Do you need to lose a few pounds? Lighten or darken your hair? Change your eye color? Remove a blemish or remove wrinkles or scars? Juan can do all of that and much more. Juans web link

- J.B. Blocker is a media consultant based in Collin County in North Texas. Advertise with J.B. by calling 469-334-9962.

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