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The Gear Photographers dont Use

January 30th, 2016

The Gear Photographers dont Use

So I am sitting here playing the never ending game of catch up and working on picking my top 12 commercial and top 12 fine art images created in 2015 (more on those to come) But in my search and sorting using Adobe Lightroom I noticed something interesting. One of many organizing feature in lightroom is the ability to use embedded metadata. Lightroom will help you sort by year,month,week,day GPS location Keywords, even by camera body and lens. The last one was the interesting for me.

The lens numbers really were an eye opener. As photographers we have a tendency to collect gear especially lenses the we just know we need. I will be the first to admit to being a lens collector but recently I have sold a few based on just my own recollection of use. I was uneasy about it but I did it anyway. Well the numbers do not lie. For the lens I sold I used it to create a whopping 162 of the 26,200 commercial images I made in 2015. In reviewing these images I do have another lens that could have been used and done the job it just isn't quite as wide. Now there are other minor particulars about both lenses but to be honest I could have just as easily used the one that gets the most use made more than 4600 images.

The real eye opener was in reviewing the overall totals for camera and lens use. by the numbers I used my Fuji cameras and my Wide angle lens to create more than two thirds of my commercial images not my “work horse” Nikons.

Now the same even holds true for my Fine Art photo work though it is more 50-50 but the fact is out of the 15 Lenses I own I basically use 3 or their equivalent (on the crop sensor camera) 96% of the time so in total I use six of my fifteen lenses most of the time and in review of the say other 4% I could have created the same basic image without any of the other “special” lenses.

Now what really surprises me is the number of images I am creating with my iphone instead of pulling out the big guns but that may be a story for another day.

I guess what I am saying is gear is fun and cool and shiny and great but what is most important is you do not need to own it all to create great images you just have to get off your ass and create more great images with the gear you have and when I look at my numbers for 2015 especially in my Fine Art catalog I really need to get off my ass and go out and create more!

What the camera means to me

January 14th, 2016

What the camera means to me


The camera what does it do for me?


The camera takes away everything and gives me everything I need all at the same time. With a camera in my hand it is only me my tools and whatever I am capturing everything else fades away. All the stress and worries of the world all the fear of success and the worry of paying the bills, The physical pains I have and the emotional demons I am battling all simply slip away.


In place of these things comes a smile and and sense of peace and comfort a happiness that I can only find when I have camera in hand. It is a special time for me. As long as I am shooting it does not matter what I am capturing the subject is irrelevant. It is the simple act of creating camera in hand that brings me great joy even if not a thing I photographed on any given outing turns out I am happy it is less about the finished art and more about the fact that I am creating. But when the image comes out that is a special moment all of it’s own.


In conversation with our pastor we were discussing jobs and work. I had this realization that for many or even most people the job they do is that just a job. They may or may not enjoy it they may even love what they do but for few people is a job a part of them. What I mean is that being a photographer and artist is more than just a job it is part of me a part of who I am almost like it is part of my DNA. that simple fact makes my hardest days the ones when I can not shoot and I can not create. Not creating when I want and need to simply makes my soul hurt.


Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stop taking time for granted

January 13th, 2016

Stop taking time for granted

I am average in every sense of the word. I do not see myself as all that special regardless of experience,knowledge or accomplishments or perceived accomplishments or success. This is how I see myself today and this view of myself has certainly changed over the years. Fact is I am an almost 42 year old guy that has lived allot and done many different things and had allot of experiences possibly even more than most people have the chance to do. I have met people from all walks of life that I can think of and managed to get along with them all. But as I sit typing this watching a documentary I realize something very important.

WE TAKE TIME FOR GRANTED!

Everyday I get up I have my routine I do what I do and I go through my day thinking I have done the best for that day that I can. For those who know me and my past you will understand this for those of you who do not know me just go with it for a second. On any given day I have a thought of the things I have done good and bad, I think about life and it’s end. What will I truly leave as a legacy and in a flash the thought is gone and I am back to the chaos of the moment. I stop thinking about what was what is and what may be and I am swallowed by the current moment. And all the while I am TAKING TIME FOR GRANTED.

At almost 42 with a short list of physical ailments and still living life 100% functional albeit in constant pain I am now starting to think. I may 10 years I am may have 20 years I may have 30 years but I can tell you I do not have 40-50 years left and I sure as hell can not re-live the first 42. And yet I am daily TAKING TIME FOR GRANTED focusing on the things that just get me through the day so I can just get by. I have a feeling this is how many if not most of us live Here is the simple reality from day one on this earth we have only so many breaths only so many heart beats and those of us average or not have no right to waste the time we have if for no other reason than there are many many people whose lives are cut short for any number of reason and for those of us that have our health and sanity we have a responsibility to make things bigger and better to live to the fullest the time we have and to not waste it to not TAKE TIME FOR GRANTED. We need to make life better for ourselves and for others.

Take from someone that is still here and shouldn’t be Life is not as bad as you think it is but life is hard. Stop TAKING THE TIME YOU HAVE FOR GRANTED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MAKE THE MOST OF THE FINITE AMOUNT OF TIME WE HAVE!

Freelance does not mean FREE

January 11th, 2016

Freelance does not mean FREE

freelance adjective free·lance
: earning money by being hired to work on different jobs for short periods of time rather than by having a permanent job with one employer; also : done or produced by a freelance worker

1
freelance noun free·lance \ˈfrē-ˌlan(t)s\

1a usually free lance : a mercenary soldier especially of the Middle Ages :
b : a person who acts independently without being affiliated with or authorized by an organization
2: a person who pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any one employer



I share these definition to make a point. That point is that allot of people and businesses seem to think oh we can hire a freelancer and it will be CHEAP or FREE. But that simply isn't true. Nowhere in the webster's definition of Freelance does it say anything about working for FREE!

It is odd to me that a business whether it’s a multi million dollar venture or yesterday's startup for some reason think that “freelance” services should be free. I am guessing they are not giving away their goods and services for free no matter what those goods and services are.

With that said it does seem that a certain group of “freelancers” seem to take it on the chin more than others. I am thinking about the small one, two , or three person small design firms and small photography and video businesses that for some odd reason are often approached to provide free services or service at a greatly reduced rate. Often the approach is one that says this will be great exposure for you and to be honest it rarely is. I have come to find in my years as a freelancer that the ones that take the big hit are those of us that work from small home offices or the like.

Now I will be the first to point out that appearance has allot to do with value maybe as much as tradional overhead does at times. But the thing is even if we create a bigger/better appearance like Incorporating and maybe being part of a business incubator where we have professional offices and access to board rooms etc to look larger or more high end and hey we have a great professional online presence and look our best as we should regardless of our size and office location. But for some reason when people see we are a small business or “freelance” they seem to feel free to ask for a deal or to get it FREE. I will be the first in line to tell you this is not right and should not be the case. As a small business owner I never expect a deal or anything for free. The reason I am this way is not only because I am a small business owner or “freelancer” but because I understand and know that no matter the size of the business there are cost to doing business and that everyone deserves to make a living wage for the lifestyle they want for them and their family.

The real fact of the matter is a freelancer in my view is nothing more than someone that either works solely for themselves instead of a bigger company or corporation or they have started their own small business to employee themselves and others. Fact is no matter if a freelance artist is working solo or as a team they have created the value of the product or service should be decided on the final quality and the quality of the service you receive. So no matter if the work is coming from a freelance artist or from a multi million dollar company if the finished quality is the equal or comparable then there is no reason that the cost for these goods or services should not be of equal price. I know for fact no one is asking a Corporation for a discount or for free work!

Now for the reality of it. Very often Smaller businesses and freelance artist can provide better one on one customer service and superior finished products and can have far more value and be worth more in the long run.

Out of Nothing, Nothing Comes

May 20th, 2015

Out of Nothing, Nothing Comes

Ex Nihilo, Nihilo Fit.

I can not recall when I first heard this phrase or the exact context but it has stuck with me. Ex Nihilo, Nihilo Fit Translation Out of nothing, nothing comes. Sounds pretty simple and straightforward but to be honest this simple phrase and many of the beliefs behind it have cost many people a dear price.

For me though as an artist I try not to get into the theological debate I just take a more literal view of the phrase. Simply put unless we are creating well then we can’t creative. Creative juices flow and new and wonderful ideas come best when we are already creating and working. I can honestly say my best new ideas come when I am already out creating sometimes they are better ideas about the project I am currently working on but often they are completely new and unrelated ideas.In my personal experience amazing ideas for a completely new off the wall image ideas always come one of two times, when I am on a project and a spark hits me or when I am enjoying another artist work..

Fact is whether I am shooting, creating a composite, or writing, my best ideas come when I am already working and creating. You have to put in the seat time you have to work at it as a creative they call it Art Work for a reason it takes work and dedication.

So if you are feeling stuck or blocked get up grab the camera, the brush and pen a notebook or whatever your tool of choice get out and start creating. Even if you are creating basic blah simple work or total crap the sheer act of creating awakens the inner creative and gets the juices flowing and before you know your are creating your next masterpiece or body of work.

The Artist Spce

April 23rd, 2015

The Artist Spce

We have all heard about the artist space or studio. Often when talking to an artist, we hear them say the words my studio, my gallery, or my creative space. For an artist, the space in which he or she creates their art is incredibly important. The space in which an artist creates their work is actually often more important than the materials and medium that they choose to use. There are many reasons for this categorization of importance. First item of importance, is that the space needs to fit the artist just like a good jacket fits you during the winter. This perfectly fit jacket provides you with the feeling of safety and comfort even in the worst of weather. Secondly an artist has to have enough room to work with the tools that they use as well as the infrastructure to work with them. Third and likely the most important, is that the space that the artist uses needs to feel right. The space needs to be a sanctuary of vision and ideas and a place where those visions can be fed and nurtured. An artist's studio should serve as inspiration and be a holy place of sorts.


The matter of importance is not necessarily where your studio is located, or the size of the studio, but rather that the space needs to serve its function as a creative space and to do it in a cost effective manner. These factors are very important for producing an effective creative space. Simply put, function means that whatever you are creating fits into the studio with you and your tools as well as with all the things you need to create, The space must be cost effective as well. As artists we have to create. For many of us this is for our livelihood in order to be able to pay the mortgage, buy food and clothes, send our kids to school and after school programs. In order to be successful at this means that we have to be profitable. Our success now makes having a cost effective space move to the top of the list as it should be along with other overhead concerns.


I personally have had a number of studio spaces myself. Some of these spaces were a good fit and some were not. Some of these spaces were cost effective, and others weren't. What all of these spaces did have in common is that they were all great for me at the time and I made them work. I still do dream of the perfect studio that I may or may not ever have. Now as my career as a commercial photographer begins to slowly wind down and as I am transitioning to a newer and hopefully slower paced photography career, I will be home more. This change in pace has resulted in my decision to open a Fine Art Gallery. I think that I may have found my perfect creative space that is not a studio at all.


You may ask why do I see it this way. I must say that for years most of my work, even in the days of film, was done on location with no real need for a traditional studio or creative space. During these shoots my creative space was whereever I was. Now that I have moved into the digital age, and into a career in fine art, I do need a creative space. This is simply because the way that I approach my art is completely new. I am now doing a lot of work in the digital darkroom and creating a number of multi image composites. This actually hails back to the days of Jerry Uelsman’s composites that were created in a traditional wet darkroom. The fact is, that I now want and need an inspiring and creative space.


I am blessed to have my space now in the form of a Fine Art Gallery. This space that feels like a museum to me and I am surrounded by amazing ever changing art by wonderful inspiring artists. My Creative space has certainly evolved and it is more important to me than ever before. I am very blessed to have a great space and great artists working with me for inspiration moving forward.

Earth Day 2015

April 22nd, 2015

Earth Day 2015

Today is Earthday and I for one think allot about this earth we live on thanks to great parents I was raised to respect and use the land.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” -- Albert Einstein

Looking deep into nature and spending time in nature allows us to look into ourselves as well it allows us to reach a connection with the planet we live on and that in so many ways gives and sustains our lives. In honor of my father and the things he taught me about nature I have even created a collection in his name because of his love and passion for how we can live with our earth and it can make our lives better and we can make it better for the next generation.

National Parks week top 7 #3

April 22nd, 2015

National Parks week top 7 #3


Number 3 People yes people. The parks are full of wonderful people both the visitors from all over the US and the world and the people that work our National parks from the Rangers to the maintenance and the vendors that make the parks a great experience.

National Parks Week top 7 # 4

April 21st, 2015

National Parks Week top 7 # 4

# 4 Even in what may be considered the OFF Season for a park they are beautiful and have amazing things to share and lessons to teach us.

Two Most Important Days

April 19th, 2015

Two Most Important Days

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ..... Mark Twain


I read this quote at the beginning of a movie we rented recently and it caused me to take pause and think about the very questions it seems to ask. I get the day we are born it is important not just because it brings you into being and brings joy to your parents and family but it is the beginning of the person that may change the world or may not but without doubt the personal that will have some impact on the world.


The person you become and how and what makes you that person is a story for later. But the second day the day you find out or realize why is much more obscure and often more difficult to not only understand but accept. This part is a bit Zen like in ways. For me the realization of the WHY? has had many meanings and seems to changed or evolved over time.



For me the why has over time had many answers earlier in my life at age 17 while an EMT I thought it was to serve the community to help and maybe save others, Then in the USAF I felt it was to serve my nation to be part of a brotherhood of military members that served our fellow man by protecting our country and way of life and the rights we hold precious and dear. Then again after the USAF as a firefighter Medic at age 26 I fell back to how I felt as a young EMT and my feelings of community and caring for others and something bigger than myself.


Now at 40 and after many years as a commercial photographer and an artist I feel like I am here to share my art to improve lives through art be it in teaching kids at a workshop at the botanical gardens or a class for adults teaching the joy of photography and the creative process. It may even be in the sharing and selling of my work and other artist work in our new gallery sharing art for everyone to take home to in some way improve their lives maybe trough the kids programs we have planned for the gallery to nurture art in the kids in the region and working with local schools to keep art of all kinds important.


In the end after all of the "reasons" I have felt answer WHY I am here they all point to one simple fact I really feel like I am here to serve others to put others before me and to make a difference in a positive way in others lives no matter the way I do it!“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ..... Mark Twain



I read this quote at the beginning of a movie we rented recently and it caused me to take pause and think about the very questions it seems to ask. I get the day we are born it is important not just because it brings you into being and brings joy to your parents and family but it is the beginning of the person that may change the world or may not but without doubt the personal that will have some impact on the world.


The person you become and how and what makes you that person is a story for later. But the second day the day you find out or realize why is much more obscure and often more difficult to not only understand but accept. This part is a bit Zen like in ways. For me the realization of the WHY? has had many meanings and seems to changed or evolved over time.


For me the why has over time had many answers earlier in my life at age 17 while an EMT I thought it was to serve the community to help and maybe save others, Then in the USAF I felt it was to serve my nation to be part of a brotherhood of military members that served our fellow man by protecting our country and way of life and the rights we hold precious and dear. Then again after the USAF as a firefighter Medic at age 26 I fell back to how I felt as a young EMT and my feelings of community and caring for others and something bigger than myself.


Now at 40 and after many years as a commercial photographer and an artist I feel like I am here to share my art to improve lives through art be it in teaching kids at a workshop at the botanical gardens or a class for adults teaching the joy of photography and the creative process. It may even be in the sharing and selling of my work and other artist work in our new gallery sharing art for everyone to take home to in some way improve their lives maybe trough the kids programs we have planned for the gallery to nurture art in the kids in the region and working with local schools to keep art of all kinds important.


In the end after all of the "reasons" I have felt answer WHY I am here they all point to one simple fact I really feel like I am here to serve others to put others before me and to make a difference in a positive way in others lives no matter the way I do it!

National Parks Week top 7 #5

April 19th, 2015

National Parks Week top 7 #5

Number 5

Diversity. Of the 59 National Parks / Protected area in the US each park is very unique all are very different from one another. Fact is within each park there can be massive diversity from one area to the next. we can have Glaciers to wetlands to Rain-forest all in one park. The parks are as diverse as their visitors and this simply amazes me.

National Parks Week, Top 7 #5 , Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive, Yellow Lady Slipper

National Parks Week #6

April 19th, 2015

National Parks Week #6

The number 6 reason I love our National Parks. They are right in our back yard and a a place for peace and where we are all equal.

National Parks week top 7

April 19th, 2015

National Parks week top 7

So April 18th kicks of National Parks week and I love everything about our National Park system and what they offer us and visitors to the US. I figure that this is the perfect time to list my TOP 7 reason I love our parks.

Number 7

They preserve a piece of the past and our national heritage from the best of times to some of our worst times. They offer us a place to learn and a living breathing section of history education.

To do list - To do and More to do

April 14th, 2015

To do list - To do and More to do

With the starting of a new fine art gallery and the opening looming just a few short weeks away (about 6-8) and with the delivery of the first pieces sold made yesterday before e have even opened the doors. And with the day we have been waiting for the first day of move in being tomorrow, I sat down and got to looking at the to do list.

It all got me to reflecting and looking at the list I hand write and carry with me just about everywhere I add to the list constantly and most days it seems for every one thing I cross off I Ad four more. I often even go to the extreme of having multiple list that I have to number or star the important things so I can prioritize what needs to be done. I have tried to digital task managers and list in the past with little success I am sure it is all a state of mind but for me there is something about physically taking a pen and marking through something that is finished and looking at the list once many things are crossed off and it just feels good. Granted when I start from scratch with a blank sheet and make a huge list I have a mini freak out session the funny part is I often we add stuff I have already done just to immediately mark it off to stave off the panic attack.

Point being there is something about making these list that makes me more efficient and more effective. And I am sure there is some scientific study out there that points to some raw data that shows some connection between writing it down and getting it done and some insane % improvement on success but I honestly have not seen or read it. For me thought there is just the facet that it works for me and I can always tell when I haven't got a list going because I am so scattered brained I feel lost. I chalk it up to being an artist and I need help focusing that's my story and I am sticking to it.

Make it interesting not correct

April 3rd, 2015

Make it interesting not correct

I had the great pleasure a few weeks ago to attend my 13yo daughters district band concert and while watching and listening to her and the other students play was the best part I also learned a great lesson from the final conductor for the high school band.


While addressing the audience Dr. Timothy J Robble said” make music interesting not correct”. This stuck with me for the entire performance, So much so that afterwards I had to find the good Dr. and share the impact his statement had. While this Certainly applied to the music that was played. I had the thought about what it may mean in a larger view.

What if we all as artist took this to heart make our art interesting not correct or perfect. Make art that feels the way we feel make art that impacts not only others but ourselves. Let go of all the technical perfection all of the fascination with the gear and tools of our art let go of our fixation with making it perfect just simply make it and make it interesting.

Low Hanging Fruit

March 30th, 2015

Low Hanging Fruit

In photography, we are often tempted to go after the easy shot - the low hanging fruit - as it were. In all honesty if the truth be known, it is a fact that we, as artists, have a tendency to be very fragile. As big as our egos can get, we are hurt easily and take things way too personally as well as to heart. It is as a result of this that we reach for the low hanging fruit due to the fact that it is easy to get to. This then gives us the opportunity to do well easily, and to get a nice pleasing acceptable image or piece of art that will be liked and agreeable to the masses.

I once heard, "Sometimes to get to the good fruit you have to take a chance and go out on a limb." The point of this quote is that you should go for a true reward, meaning a reward that is personal to you, and the hell with everyone else's opinion. Within this I am talking about pleasing the inner artist and vision monger that lies within the person that really matters, which is * YOU* the artist. Please heed my advice and take the chance, climb out on that shaky limb and go for the good fruit that will make the art that YOU want to make. Go ahead and make the art that you have to work for. Do not worry about whether or not it is accepted by the masses, rather just worry about making the art that you love and that you want to put in your house or hang on your walls.

Nature is Beautiful

March 30th, 2015

Nature is Beautiful

I had the great pleasure along with my wife to tech at the USBG. (United State Botanical Gardens) this weekend. One to two times a year we teach a kids art and photography program and in between sessions and lunch I normally get a few free minutes. This year as I was walking around I took one image that drove it home to me just how beautiful and inspiring nature is. This is that image.