The Knight

This is part of my Forever Grateful project.
As I was selling my home and placing my business on hi
atus for a period of time, I took portraits of about 30 people who influenced my career over the past 12 years. This was my way of saying “Thanks” and letting everyone know that I couldn’t have done it without their support.


You’ve influenced my life in so many ways. From convincing me to eat vegan, to studying effective protests, to helping me become a home owner, to helping me become not a home owner, to countless nights of Settlers of Catan, to being a true friend who is there for me whenever I need you.

But this project is about people who’ve influenced my photography career, so let’s talk about that period of time I wanted to see explore selling my photography in art shows. I had been dabbling in the art scene and you knew that I wanted to do more, but money was tight and my morale was low.

Truth be told, I was depressed over a recent breakup and was feeling pretty hopeless. Besides being there to talk to, you also leant me the money to print several dozen pieces with the simple request that I pay you back, bit by bit, when I sold a piece.

You’re a good guy, so maybe you were just supporting an artist friend with his dream, but I think you probably knew that the excitement and joy I got from putting on a solo show and selling my art would help bring me out of my depression. Either way, you did just that.

Photo by Jill McCloe – Blake Gardner at The Beverly Hills Affaire in the Gardens

I’ve always been impressed and inspired by your generosity and good nature. You are the ideal of what all human beings should strive to be.

Forever grateful,


The Story Behind the Shoot:

Years ago, Ryan introduced me to the board game, Settlers of Catan… and by “introduced me”, I mean he got me totally addicted to it. I celebrated by birthday last year by hosting a Catan Tournament… that’s the degree in which I love this game.


The game consists of rolling dice, building roads and cities, trading with your opponents, and utilizing Knights to chase away Robbers.

Now, let’s back-up to 20 years ago, before I knew Ryan, I participated in a guided meditation at a seminar at my workplace. During the meditation I encountered a “Robber” who was a shadowy figure that was holding me back. I explored the imagery later on and found the “Robber” was my own depression.

Therefore, if this were Catan, Ryan would be considered the Knight who helped chase away my Robber. I should give him some Wheat (Catan inside joke).

Ryan Flegal - photo by Blake Gardner Photography
Ryan Flegal – photo by Blake Gardner Photography
Ryan Flegal - photo by Blake Gardner Photography
Ryan Flegal – photo by Blake Gardner Photography

Check out more of my Forever Grateful project HERE

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