Monochrome . Blog Carousel

In an effort to force myself to blog more often and to share the work of some of my wonderful colleagues I invite you to view our blog carousel. It is a network of blogs belonging to some truly incredible photographers where we choose a monthly theme and all post based on that theme, it’s fantastic to see other amazing photographers interpretations. This month’s theme is “Monochrome”. Once you’ve read my blog post be sure to click on the photographer’s link I’ve posted to read theirs, you’ll be able to do the same on her blog and can keep going until you’ve come full circle.

This month has been busy, difficult, and emotionally taxing. We’ve worked non-stop, traveled many places, and created some amazing memories. But I also had a close call with my grandmother being rushed to the hospital via ambulance in the beginning stages of a heart attack. The week following that was filled with much stress as she went through testing, surgery, etc… but is, thankfully, now resting quite well at home with her new pacemaker.

The next tragedy hit last Wednesday. It’s a day that I, and most other people in the Southeast, won’t soon forget. Wednesday morning I drove my kids to school and decided to come home and take a power-nap since I’d been up editing photos until about 4am. Sometime around 9am I woke up to strong wind, the loud, incessant beeping of my UPS’s telling me that the power had gone out (I have several to keep all of my hard drives safe in case of a power spike or outage) and could hear the wind raging outside, storms so fierce that it felt as though my house were shaking. Though I’d planned to just take a quick nap I decided to shut down the hard drives and turn off the UPS’s since I clearly wasn’t going to be able to work anyway and take a longer nap than I had originally planned. Around 11am I woke up again, this time to the sound of my phone vibrating next to my pillow. It was the kid’s school’s emergency notification line calling to tell all of the parents to pick their children up immediately. Never something you want to hear.

I jumped out of bed, threw on a pair of jeans, and headed toward the school. I made it about a mile and a half from my house when I was met by dozens of trees laying across the road. I turned around to go the other way down the ridge I live on. Again, I was met by fallen trees. I tried yet another route – this one much longer, but was stupefied when I came across another completely blocked road. I picked up the phone to call my ex-husband to see if he could pick the kids up since it clearly appeared as though I wasn’t going to find a way out. In a fateful turn of events my phone began to ring as soon as I picked it up. A close friend from the school was calling to see if I needed him to grab my kids and wait there with them until I could get there. Yes, absolutely yes, I was very thankful (and always am, as this family has helped me more times than I can count) and tried yet another, even longer, roue to try to get to the school. I finally made it down the ridge, talked to my dear friend that had picked up the kids for me and we agreed to switch the kids out a little bit (we each have 6th grade girls and boys in kindergarten) so she took the boys (she still had power at that point, I didn’t) and I took the girls and we agreed to meet up for dinner later to switch them back. A trip that normally takes me 30-40 minutes round trip took 2.5 hours. That’s how bad the first tornado that hit our area was. I was shocked at the damage, especially considering that we live n an area that doesn’t really experience extreme weather of any kind. Before last week I could count on one hand the number of times we’ve had tornadoes here in my entire lifetime. I had no idea exactly how dramatically that was about to change.

I watched the weather closely throughout the day, making sure to update friends and family and hoping everyone was safe as tornado after tornado hit our area. We spent a lot of time in the basement (honestly I’ve never been so thankful to have a basement in my entire life) and eventually we went out to dinner (we still had no power and it seemed as though the storms were slacking off). The school called to cancel for the following day so Isabelle went home with her friend for the evening and Sam cam home with me. It’s a night I won’t soon forget.

Tornado warning after warning constantly coming in text messages to my phone from weather.com (severe weather alerts via text message are nice). Sam was scared as we ended up cuddling on the bathroom floor in the basement trying to sleep as much as possible until the warnings ended. Just before sunset I sent my ex-husband a text message letting him know that there was a tornado on the ground and headed his way. A few minutes later I receive a frantic phone call from him talking about how he can see it in the field by his house. The call ends abruptly. I can no longer reach him. Had my dear friends not picked up my kids for me at school on Wednesday they would have been at his house.

Sam and I went to bed once the warnings ended and slept as much as we could sleep after all of the drama of the day. When we got up the next morning we still had no power and had no cell service either. I assume the storm took out our towers. I had no way of really knowing what had happened the night before. We got dressed and went out to try to find cell service and to check on people that I did know were near the path of the storms. Chaos. Destruction. Horror. Shock. Some areas were completely unrecognizable to me. As I approached the area where my ex-husband lives it honestly looked like a nuclear bomb had been detonated there. I’ve never seen anything like it, not in real life, and was absolutely not prepared for the things that I saw.

I don’t want to go in to detail about that just yet – I do want to say that I am thankful for what I have. That I didn’t complain for a single second about my power being out the rest of the week after seeing the things that I saw. I am fortunate that all of my family and friends survived his tragedy. I am very blessed.

My image for the “monochrome” theme is one of tragedy and destruction. It is an image that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It is an image that caused me to change the way I see the world and what’s important to me. Having “stuff” doesn’t look so appealing when you see it broken and scattered for miles and miles on end. Having someone to put their arms around you, or a gentle loving hand on your shoulder – that’s what matters. In the end, things are things – love is all we really have in the world. The world is more black and white (monochrome) than we seem to think it is when we over complicate it with crap.

This homeowner may have lost most all of his possessions, but he still has his life, his family, and his friends – which is more than can be said for many of his neighbors.

The next person in our blog carousel is Alpana of Storybox Art, San Francisco’s Family and Kids photographer -Alpana is an amazing artist and I can’t wait to see what she came up with.

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Melody Hood


  1. Julie on May 2, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Melody, I had total chills reading about your experiences during those horrendous tornados. I can not even imagine what that was like. This image perfectly captures the tremendous sadness and loss. I am happy you and your family are safe…

  2. Corey Sewell on May 2, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    What a touching post, Melody. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to see all that destruction in person. I am so glad you and your family are safe.

  3. Anna-Karin on May 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Beautiful blog post and photograph Melody!
    It is hard to believe how hard your area was hit. All those affected are in my thoughts. Glad you are able to help out and that you and yours are ok.

  4. Lauri on May 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    What people went through there is unimaginable. To read your story and see the sadness you’ve captured makes this less abstract for us and your images make us feel that sadness for them too. I think that’s important.

  5. alpana on May 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    incredible post, Melody. And such a powerful image that speaks volumes about the horrific experience he lived through.

  6. Simone Hanckel on May 2, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Oh Melody, this image is haunting. Thinking of you and your community as the rebuild begins. Such a horrific tragedy 🙁 xo

  7. […] I’ve been joining in with a group that features a fun theme each month to showcase on a blog post. When I heard this month’s theme was “monochromatic,” I knew I had a great image (and an excuse to show off one of the cutest little guys I have had in the studio in a while!). Monochromatic, of course, means “one color.” I love how we did this bunny theme all in gray, it makes it cute without being too silly…if this doesn’t make you smile, nothing will! After your visit here, be sure to check out the next player in our group and her showcase of “monochromatic,” by Melody Hood, Chattanooga,Tennessee, area kids and family photographer […]

  8. Ruthi on May 2, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Oh Melody, this is such a deeply moving image and post. I have been thinking of you. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. PamN on May 2, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Such a powerful image – his expression says it all.

  10. Blair Blanks on May 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Love is all there is…I will keep these thoughts with me forever.

  11. Dena Robles on May 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    So humbling. The emotion and connection in this photograph are overwhelming.

  12. Danna on May 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    this is so touching and heartfelt….the emotions that come right through this image make me want to reach in and give him a hug 🙁

  13. Marmalade on May 2, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Oh my gosh Melody, truly a terrifying experience. The expression on the man says more than the 1,000 words you normally get from a photo. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Mary Beth on May 2, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Melody, I am so sorry for all that you and those around you have went through this past week. Thank you for sharing and for the beautiful, moving photograph as well.

  15. Samara on May 3, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Oh Melody – this image is heartbreaking, yet in some way a story of victory all at the same time. You are right, he does have his life, family and friends. So so so glad that you are ok and your family too.

  16. Jim Davis on July 29, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Great image that really hits home after reading your post.