Commercial and Editorial Photographer Dennis Keim, Huntsville, Alabama Postcards of My Miss-Adventures Vol.1 blog links bio contact  

Land O’ Lakes

April 21st, 2014

Good morning to you all and happy day after Easter. I hope yours was a basket filled with Easter cheer and the true meaning of why we celebrate the day.

At the nudging and insistence of a good friend, I found my way to Venice, FL last week to participate in the birthday celebration for one of my ex-roommate’s and former curator of the Space and Rocket Center, Mr. James Hagler. My arrival and participation was kept a secret to James. Unfortunately on the night of his party James was too sick to attend and even though the party was postponed, a few of us still found our way to “Back Eddy’s Bistro” to celebrate in his absence. It is, after all, what true friends do!!!

Prior to my departure from Huntsville, I had received another call from my best friend from Tampa, who now lives in San Diego. Tom called to let me know that he was traveling back to Tampa for a week or so and that “our group” was getting together for a small reunion dinner. Tom asked if there was any way I could find my way to Florida and attend. Not knowing at that time I was going to be in the Tampa area, I declined but soon realized that, given the date, I would in fact be in the area attending James birthday party. I came to the conclusion that I could “crash” two parties and surprise both. So that is exactly what I laid plans to do, attend James’ birthday party and then, telling no one, show up for the dinner party.

You see the dinner was to be a small gathering of Florida friends whom I have known for almost 40 years. As impromptu as the dinner was, I knew that it would a night of frivolity, tall tales, great food, a fair amount of wine consumption and a night not to be missed. The look on my friends’ faces when I walk through the door was priceless. We found ourselves migrating to the back yard as the sun was setting and what a beautiful sight it was. My friends MariDru and Greg live on the backside of a marsh in Land O’ Lakes. As the sun set I found myself lost in the moment, reflecting on just how beautiful it was and wonderful it was to be sharing this time with dear friends. The setting was as priceless as the evening spent catching up on our current adult status while reliving and embellishing our past childhood escapades. The more the wine flowed the more the stories grew. It was a night to remember.

All in all it was not a bad way to spend a week where I had two opportunities to be the surprise and spend time with dear friends. Like the setting sun, it warms the heart! ENJOY!!!!!!

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Best regards …… dK

Metal Works

April 14th, 2014

And the hits just keep on coming … the “good weather hits” that is! What a stellar weekend.

Recently I had the opportunity to drive down to Birmingham for the day and visit with two dear friends who work at the Birmingham Business Alliance, Brian Hilson and Rick Davis. Rick and Brian had previously worked at the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce and now are leading the charge for the new economic development movement at the Birmingham Chamber. It was a visit that was way over due and I must say that their “treat” was well worth the drive.

The treat came in the form of a lunch trip to Bright Star Restaurant in Bessemer, AL. I knew little about the establishment but it did not take me long to realize that, with all the celebrity and sport legends photos on the wall, it was no secret to everyone else. The restaurant is listed on almost everyone’s Top 100 lists including the James Beard Foundation designation as an American Classic Restaurant, CNN as one of Americas Best Historic Restaurants and designated as having “1 of the 100 southern dishes to eat before you die”. Brothers Nicky and Jimmy Koikos have owned and operated the restaurant since 1966. I had the pleasure of meeting both, while enjoying their extreme hospitality and a stellar lunch!!!

Once my lunch and visit we complete, I chose to spend the rest of the day photographing some of my favorite destinations, which include Vulcan Park and the Sloss Furnaces. Both are iconic attractions with exceptional photographic appeal. Vulcan Park overlooks the city with and includes the largest cast iron statue in the world (visitvulcan.com). Sloss Furnaces is the only blast furnace preserved for public use and is listed as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1981.

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Sloss Furnaces was a pig iron-producing blast furnace from 1882-1971. The site is now an interpretive museum of the industry as well as serves as a music and festival venue. It is one of my favorite photographic destinations in the Birmingham area.

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Keep us in mind for any of your upcoming photographic assignments as well as any and all of your stock and art needs.
Have Camera – Will Travel … Corporate, Advertising and Editorial.

Best Regards …..!!!!!
~dK~

A City is Blooming

April 7th, 2014

A happy Monday week to you! I hope you were able to get out and enjoy some of the beautiful weekend. Friday night kicked off the summer series of “Concerts on the Docks” at Lowe Mill with the Reggae Band, KUSH. With a huge crowd in attendance, “They were Jamm’n MON!!!”

What a beautiful week it was with the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom in downtown Huntsville. Once a year the city lights up around Big Spring International Park with this beautiful display of natures’ art and this week, by all accounts, was one of the better shows!

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I had the pleasure to be downtown a couple of times last week shooting a few photographic assignments so, once completed, I decide to take full advantage of the parks splendid beauty. No matter what vantage point you chose, the park was “showing out” and with the weather as wonderful as it was the trees stayed in bloom for an extended period of time.

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With the spring like weather and the beauty of the park there was little doubt that downtown would be a destination point for residents and photographers alike. I knew I was in good company and on the right track when I ran into Bob Gathany, the Huntsville Times news photographer, on a couple of different occasions. Looking at his photographs that were posted on the Internet, I realized that my chosen photo sports were “not so secret”!  Enjoy!!

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Keep us in mind for any of your upcoming photographic assignments as well as any and all of your stock and art needs.
Have Camera – Will Travel … Corporate, Advertising and Editorial.

Best Regards …..!!!!!
~ dennis keim ~

World’s Largest Junkyard

March 31st, 2014

A happy Monday morning to you! It looks like the weatherman is predicting a beautiful week ahead with temperatures rising into the high 70’s. But as they say, it is Alabama and who knows what the week will have to offer.

On one of my most recent “happy feet” road trips I took advantage of the expectation of great weather to head east to White, GA. and visit a “roadside attraction” I have read about for some time. It is an urban facility covering 34 acres that is home to over 4,500 retired vehicles.  Mind you, as a note of reference, the population of White, GA. is estimated at around 675 people. Lewis World of Parts has been in the same family and same location since 1931 and is now aptly named Old Car City USA. Established early as an automobile junkyard, it is currently home to a photogenic collection of vintage American (and a few European) cars that were built no later than the 1970’s.

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The current proprietor Lewis, Walter Dean (as his business card reads) took over the junkyard in 1970 from his father. Dean saw art where most just considered it junk. To use his words, he is not normal in that way! Through word of mouth and photography the once stagnant operation is flourishing with visitors coming from near and far. The “world’s largest” junkyard has tuned into an international destination for classic car lovers, photographers and artists. Dean is fast to greet you at the gate that is garnished with a wooden red button that instructs you to “push to open”. With no operational value at all, the hand written directions are a reflection of Deans’ wit.  Dean then walks over to show you the area map and answer the one question that he must have to answer to each “newbie”, “Where are the best cars located and the best sites to visit?” He points to the map and directs you to hang a hard right once you depart the building.  From there, “it is best of luck and try not to get lost cause we close at 4pm!”

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Dean, who is a self-accomplished internationally recognized “Styrofoam Coffee Cup Art Doodler” speaks of the cars with the same adulation as a very proud papa when asked about his children. You could just imagine that, if you were to be toured by him, he would have a name for each and every one of the vehicles, all 4500. What makes this junkyard so appealing is the sheer volume of old vehicles and the current state of pine needle that blankets and engulfing the car frames, making their own natural car art. It is a photographers paradise that is, quite frankly, sensory overload!

When visiting, be sure to get there early, bring plenty of water and get prepared to spend the latter part of the day roaming the many rows of vehicles. Remember to take cash because they do not take credit cards. Dean admits to being technically challenged but something tells me that is just a “good ole boy with good financial sense” ploy!

Lastly, when the hunger urge strikes be sure to head across the street to WesMan’s restaurant, known for its vintage southern décor and exceptional food and hospitality. Tell them Lewis, Walter Dean sent you or as his friends refer to him, Dean!! ENJOY!

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Keep us in mind for any of your upcoming photographic assignments as well as any and all of your stock and art needs. Have Camera – Will Travel … Corporate, Advertising and Editorial.

Best Regards …..!!!!!
~ dennis keim ~

Grand Old Lady

March 24th, 2014

What a wonderful weekend we were treated to as the hint of better weather ahead was whispered just as we were welcomed by a chilly first day of spring. I took advantage of the fabulous weather and wonderful weekend by “road tripp’n” over to White, GA to visit friends and do a bit of shooting along the way. I love the trip because it takes me through one of my favorite towns on Lookout Mountain, Mentone, AL.

Mentone was best known for it’s iconic hotel, the Mentone Springs Hotel. The hotel was built in in 1884 by Dr. Frank Caldwell and over the many years of its existence was home to visiting summer guests and numerous organizations including the Alabama State Baptists Young Peoples Union. It’s early claim of being one of the most healthful and attractive spots in the South came from its elevated view and two springs that were located on the grounds, Mineral Springs and Beauty Springs. For years to follow, the structure was the iconic centerpiece that welcomed, as well as, bid a fond farewell to all visitors heading east or west. On my first ever visit to the area I stopped in and bought a few copies of Life magazine from the items displayed at the White Elephant and it continued to be a frequent stop on my travels to the area. The hotel gained national recognition when it was listed on the National Register of Historical Places, while my dear friends Sandra and Ray Padgett operated it. It was one of the oldest hotels in the state of Alabama and named by the New York Times as one of the “1,000 Places to visit before you die.”

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On March 1st the unthinkable happened and the hotel caught fire, burning to the ground along with the White Elephant, the antique and book store. Like most, including the residents of Mentone, it was unfathomable to think of the city with out its majestic lady! Current owners, Darlene and Jim Rotch, were quoted the day after, “We are heartsick and sad to announce that the Mentone Springs Hotel and the White Elephant are gone–devastated by fire. Thank God no one was hurt.”

This past weekend afforded me the first opportunity to visit Mentone after the fire and like all that had some relationship with the hotel, I was saddened to see the destruction and the remains of what was once the “majestic lady” that stood proud and tall representing the town in such a honorable fashion. Little remained of the structure other than the two iconic towering fireplaces and the base structure made of concrete and metal. When speaking with friends and residents in the town you could feel that part of their heart had been torn from their sense of self and community. Nothing can replace what once was but everyone looks forward to the next journey of what might be, when a new structure will rise from the ashes to help redefine the beauty and the heart of this beautiful mountain community.

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On the final leg of the trip home, looking to continue to capture the beauty of the area, I came across an iconic symbol that forced me to stop. During my early years, barns painted with advertisements dotted the landscape of the south gracing the back roads and highways beckoning you to mystical attractions. As I rounded the corner of a two-lane highway there stood a structure that called back to that era. I have fond memories of those old barns traveling to my grandparent’s home in Georgia and it was a picture perfect flash back too beautiful to pass up. In that moment, it afforded me a breath of fresh air as I thought back to the majestic lady we will ever remember, the Mentone Springs Hotel. ENJOY!!!

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Keep us in mind for any of your upcoming photographic assignments as well as any and all of your stock and art needs. Have Camera – Will Travel … Corporate, Advertising and Editorial.

Best Regards ….!!!!!
~ dennis keim ~
dK-studio / Huntsville, AL