Joshua Tree National Park

Everything was yellow, and the photographer looks trapped inside the tinted sunglasses. The vast expanse of the desert lay behind his image—shallow hills, rocks, bare trees and all, bathed in golden hues. His reflection is distorted: his head is large, almost bloated, with eyes the size of saucers. His sun-tanned face looks sallow, the same hue of yellow as the sand around it. His arms are longer than his legs and his feet seem to disappear into the dirt in the reflection. His large hat, now transformed into the color of honey, flaps in the desert wind. In his hands he grips a Nikon D40. Not a point-and-shoot, the photographer will correct you, but a “DSLR” thank-you-very-much.

“Huh, that’s pretty cool,” the photographer said. His image shifted, the amber desert behind it rocking violently in unison.

“Dude, what’re you doing?!” his friend asked, jerking his face away from the photographer’s own. They were sitting atop one of the rock formations the park—Joshua Tree National Park—is known for, but the two of them came out here to sight-see, damn it. He glares at the photographer.

The photographer gave a small pleading smile and wordlessly raised the camera to eye level. The image mirrored his actions, the diminutive camera in its hands now ballooning in size. His friend considers the scene before him, staring at the photographer with the camera in his ill-fitting white hat next to him. He sighed—he’s used to the photographer’s antics. He lifts his chin, his signature pose; his yellow sunglasses catching the light of a dying sun. Only the percussive sound of shutter rapidly opening and closing breaks the stillness around them.

Writing Exercise: Sensory Details

I’m searching for seashells on the beach, my splayed fingers buried in the wet sand. It feels around smooth pebbles, rocks with jagged edges, and shattered shells of long-dead creatures. I can hear the waves lapping against the shore and the faint laughter from my older cousins playing in the water. A sea breeze blows sand into my face, with it the smell of brine and catch from a fisherman’s boat in the distance.

Photography to benefit wounded British soldiers

The bookstore at the Ampleforth Abbey in the United Kingdom sells my photography as greeting cards, with the proceeds going to help wounded soldiers in the U.K.

Featured photographs (clockwise from the top): In Dress Blues Alphas, By the Beach, Mixed Messages, Marine Corps Ball, Jack, and Captive Audience.

Photographs kindly sent to me by Friar Jeremy Sierla.

Great news! I was honored by Young Americans for Liberty as their Best Blogger of the Year (2011-2012)!

Great news! I was honored by Young Americans for Liberty as their Best Blogger of the Year (2011-2012)!

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About Young Americans for Liberty

Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) is the largest, most active, and fastest-growing pro-liberty organization on America’s college campuses. With more than 300 chapters and 26,000 student activists nationwide, YAL seeks to recruit, train, educate, and mobilize students on the ideals of liberty and the Constitution.

This is not a new beginning but a continuation of a youth movement already brewing in this country. Our objective is to facilitate its success.

The personal website of Jayel Aheram