Friday, March 18, 2011

Marta's Room

Jim Baines has adopted Texas as his home State after a career serving in the U.S. Army all over the world.  He is an avid Harley man, naturalist, observer of insects and spiders, grower of great clouds of Morning Glories, Patriot, and photographer of all subjects! 

This touching story will bring a tear to your eye and tell you a lot about the heart of the author.


I'd love to know what you think of the "Relentless Pursuit" series. Please leave a comment below or email me with your suggestions on what you'd like to see on this blog. If you have a story to post on this theme, contact me. And be sure to take a look at my photography site. I'd love to hear from you!
By the way, you may get a better view of the photos and the text if you enlarge your browser screen.

  Michelle Alton


"Marta's Room" is on U.S. Highway 190 in Belton, Texas. Marta is a woman of Spanish descent with a very heavy accent, though she speaks perfect English. She is married but has no children or close family. Her husband is into his own thing and Marta has dedicated her life to her antique shop. I used to stop in periodically to see what interesting things she had; it was like walking into a museum. I always had an eye out for old cameras and photographs. She told me about a photographer in Austin who comes in often and leaves with all the old cameras that still work. He obtains bulk film and makes his own rolls for that particular camera -- and uses it. I purchased a Kodak Monitor 620, in working condition except for pin holes in the bellows. A nice conversation piece. I paid her the asking price of $35.00 and I keep it here on my desk collecting dust.

Kodak Monitor 620 and Author

The $35.00 reminded me of the photos I sometimes took of small business store-fronts. I'd print an 8 x 10 at home and put in an 11 x 14 black frame with white matting. Later, I would stop by the business and ask if they would like to purchase it. My asking price was $35.00.

On my way home I was thinking about shooting Marta's store-front and returning to sell her a framed copy. It was around lunch time on August 25, 2008, the Central Texas sun was glaring with outside temperatures way over 100 degrees. This trip was solely for the purpose of selling the store-front photo to Marta. Nothing more, nothing less.

As I drove into the driveway I saw Marta standing under the Live oak on the right side of the photo. She had a spray gun in hand and was painting an old wooden dining table and a set of chairs to match. I could see how miserable she was from the heat, sweat was dripping from her face, her dress partially wet. I had the framed photo in the passenger's seat in a plastic bag. As I exited the car I was reaching for the bag when something was vividly telling me, "Do NOT try to sell her this picture."

I approached her as she still painted and she shut down her work while we engaged in general conversation, mostly about how HOT it was on this bright August day. We chatted about some of her recent excursions, purchases for the store, and other items of small talk. Since she was busy I decided it was time to get out of her hair. I asked if I could get a quick photo of her as she painted a chair. She promptly replied, "NO! I am too fat, ugly and hot!" I quickly changed the topic and said, "Well, Marta, before I go I have something for you," She looked puzzled as I went to the car and returned with the plastic bag. I handed it to her, she pulled it from the bag, and I wish I could describe to you the expression on her face.

Marta's Room

"OH," She said, "OH! This is sooo beautiful! Are you sure it is for me?"

I said, "Yes, I thought you'd like it and I want you to have it." She broke into tears as I stood there not knowing what to say. Within a few moments she regained her composure and said, "You are the second person who has ever given me anything in my whole life" I was flabbergasted. I was speechless, We walked quietly into the store and she placed the photo on a white stand at the entrance. We had several more conversational exchanges as she told me of the only other gift she had ever received. It was a hand-made clay pot given to her years ago by a customer, and she obviously still cherished it.

On my way out the door, I turned and said, "Hey, Marta, would you have given me $35.00 for it?" She said, "NO! I NEVER pay FULL price for anything!! But I would have given you $30.00."
Texas Wildflowers on a Hot Day

Yes, Marta is the shot I never got. But I haven't given up! She has since relocated and I intend to find her new store and check up on her soon! Before it gets really HOT!
A Treat for Spring:  Texas Wildflowers

Jim Baines' Bio 

Jim is a self-taught photographer familiar with many different subjects in all types of environments, lighting and weather conditions. He does most of his shooting in Bell, Coryell and surrounding counties of the Texas Hill Country at various landscapes and points of interest. Jim is partial to rustic, nostalgic scenes, rusty tractors, farm equipment, trucks and old ranch houses. He is especially fond of windmills and only passes them up when there is no place to park safely. In addition to flowers, plants, insects and other nature scenes, he also enjoys shooting weddings, portraits, portfolios, Quinceañeras, sporting events and other special occasions.

More of Jim's images can be seen at Better Photo and Zenfolio.

  All photos by Jim Baines

One of my photographer friends, Debby Lewinson, suggested that I include a link to a truly harrowing story of and by a photographer in "Relentless Pursuit."  With the author's permission, follow this link to read Howard B. Eskin's story, and view the unbelievable photos.




Laura E. Swan said...

Very touching story. I really enjoyed it! -Laura E. Swan

Joe DiGilio said...

Jim, I've always enjoyed your photography & I enjoyed your story too. You may never have the opportunity to give another person a gift that touches them so deeply. What a special moment to recognize and remember. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Peaches said...

You my friend, I always know have a heart of gold, thats why I love you so much!
Very heart warming story!

Eva said...

Great story! I love it!
If I'm ever in that part of Texas, I would love to visit Marta's new room. Those are my favorite kinds of stores.

Deborah Baines Quinn said...

I absolutely loved this story. Very touching, and the photos are stunning. I am a are my favorite photographer.

Nikki said...

Great story -- I'm so glad you did this for her and I love the humanness you show as you admit that "gifting" Marta was not what you had in mind originally :)
Wish you had included the address to your zenfolio site if not a live link.

Michelle Alton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.