You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
It's almost a typical Sunday morning but with one exception – it follows a remarkable ten days away, which I talked about in my last Reflections post. At the risk of sounding like one of those "What I Did Last Summer" reports from the fourth grade, here's what I learned about myself last week.
In trying to decide what kind of vacation Sheila and I wanted, we chose one of the states where neither of us has spent any time – New Mexico. We spent two days in Albuquerque, four days in Santa Fe, two days in Taos and back down to Albuquerque, all total about 600 miles of driving. The trip was "remarkmable" – dig back to the Little Rascals and give that word all the enthusiasm Spanky could muster!
Well, I'm not back in elementary school, but I am surprised at how much I learned about myself over the week, and I'm hoping many of you will understand.
It all started in a little 1895 mining town called Madrid, but you have to pronounce it the way they do in New Mexico...MAD-rid.
Today it's a small artist colony, best epitomized by the woman in the general store, who when I asked, "When do stores open?" She replied, "Whenever they want to!" We laughed and then went exploring on the two blocks of shops and galleries that make up the town, and with half of them open and half closed, she was right.
There are no words to describe spending ten days without an agenda! There was no place we had to be. No specific time we had to be anywhere.
Madrid was our first day in the car, driving from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, and like most of the pictures I shot, there simply was no rhyme or reason to what caught my eye. I'd be in a sort of pseudo-macro mode one minute and landscapes the next. At one moment, I wanted to try and capture the funkiness of the area and the next, the timeless beauty.
And that brings me to my point. We all get so caught up in believing our own importance. We start to believe our own press releases. We get sucked into thinking our businesses are too often the priority. Or, at the very least we can't get business off our mind. We don't work in enough time for ourselves.
I'll never not be Type-A, but that doesn't mean it has to be my full time "sentence!" Breaking away from the business, gave me a chance to explore not only New Mexico but quality time with Sheila, great restaurants, landscapes and mountain ranges galore and time for a little inner-perspective about what I want to be when I grow up! And, here's the best part - I still don't know!
What I do know is that nothing beats taking a long break, and while mini-vacations (long weekends) are nice, sometimes it takes shutting off all the noise to have time to feed your heart, soul and smile more.
Well, I'm back, and recharged and while it was great to be away, there's no place like home! Take the time to step away from the business and appreciate everything about your life that makes you who you are, and all the people who have helped you realize your dream, even if it's not completely "baked" yet!
Wishing all of you a day of peace, time away from the business and especially the opportunity to check your priorities and make sure you've got your heart at the top of the list! Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with the people who help feed your soul and take the time to appreciate your journey so far. And to my wife Sheila...what a trip!
You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.
Note: I love the LUMIX G9. These images are right out of the camera with no post-processing except a crop here and there. It's incredibly fast on the focus and the 14-140mm lens gave me just the range I needed for just about anything I wanted to capture.
Taken at least seven years ago by my good buddy Bob Coates, it's one of my favorites of me and Sheila.
And there's still very little that beats a walk on the beach!
While this is being published for Sunday morning, I'm writing it earlier in the week. We're headed off the grid for a much-needed break from business and an opportunity to recharge our batteries. Notice the "we" in there - while I write about the importance of taking a break from business and the stress of work, I recognize that I'm a stress creator as well. Yes, I'm sure that's hard to believe! LOL
Here's my point, Sheila and I are both type A personalities, and it's not always smooth sailing - but we never stray from our goal to make a great life together and keep building, one brick at a time. There's no question I need a break from work and the challenges of life, but so does Sheila - and taking a vacation off the grid doesn't get much better than the two of us together in places we've never been.
So, Chamira Young is part of the SCU team, and I've left her with a stash of posts to share while I'm gone. Working with her brings me to another point - who's your backup? All of you have back up gear. You never photograph anything without a backup camera, lenses, and lights, but what happens when you either need a break or something unexpected comes up and you can't follow through on a previous commitment?
And there it is - I've gone full circle. Learn to recognize when it's time to step away from the business and recharge your battery as well as sharing quality time with the people most important in your life. I talk a good game when I write about this all the time, but I don't recognize the signs myself until I'm headed to a crash and burn scenario. I seem to be able to walk the talk on just about everything I do, except take care of myself!
Wishing you a day of peace, relaxation and time with the people you love most. Take the time to step away from the business and life's stressful moments and just kick back and chill. And, hug your backup, because great support backing you up is what helps you smile more and bitch less!
Happy Sunday everybody!
"A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence."
It's Sunday morning, and I love going off track from the business, marketing, and technique of photography. As I sat down to write, I knew what I wanted to talk about but just didn't like the topic. I started scrolling through Facebook and wound up listening to the video above. As music can often do, it totally changed the path I was on and gave me a completely new mindset. There are so many different aspects to my reasons for sharing the short video above.
First, it's about friendship. The piece being played was shared on Facebook by a good friend to so many of us, Tom Curley. Tom is responsible for the LUMIX Ambassador Team, and many of you have met Tom in the Panasonic booth at the various shows. The composer for this outstanding piece is Tom's son Matthew. Tom wrote on FB, "We are very proud of Matthew Curley who composed this piece. This is superb." So, right off the bat, we've got the feel-good fun of a Dad's pride at a son's accomplishments.
Second, it's about the role music plays in our lives. Sheila and I have five synced Alexas in the house, including one outside by the pool and music is playing all day every day. It sounds hokey when I write this, but music soothes the soul and no matter what kind of stress I'm dealing with, the right music will always help me mellow out. And in this house, everything is played from classic rock to jazz to country to Mozart...it depends on our mood.
Third, music is about creativity. It's a foundation in the arts, just like photography. Even the challenge in copyright issues over the years that both musicians and photographers have had to deal with brings the two industries closer together. All of you have music playing in your studios, while you work and specific kinds of music for various clients during a portrait session. And, there are photographers who we all admire, like Roberto Valenzuela who gets his discipline from his foundation as a classical guitarist.
And last on the list is the way music is in my genes! My folks were great supporters of the Cleveland Symphony. They were involved in fund-raising for years in helping to build Blossom, the outdoor summer venue in Ohio for the orchestra. I met Jahja Ling, who today is Maestro for the San Diego symphony back in the days when he was an assistant conductor in Cleveland. And here's a fun fact, he's a diehard hobbyist as a photographer, and a Hasselblad shooter who Sheila and I have met several times.
But the role of music in my life doesn't stop there. My Dad played trumpet his entire life, and I played the French horn in high school. As a kid, my mother would drag us into antique shops on her hunt for odd size teacups and plates - so Dad and I needed something to do, and the common bond was to start a musical instrument collection.
Dad and I would often find something we wanted; make the purchase and then get my grandmother to write to the manufacturer and see what she could dig up on the history of the instrument itself. It was a great family hobby, and most of his collection is in our home today.
One of my favorite pieces is a string-valve cornet, complete with it's original wood and velvet lined case pictured here. Wanting to include it today, gave me a chance to play with the new LUMIX G9 with the 14-140mm lens. The photograph is right out of the can with absolutely no manipulation, shooting IA mode with window light. Shot at f4.0 @ 1/50 at ISO3200.
And there you have it...a Sunday morning post that's gone in several different directions, but all thanks to Tom Curley sharing his pride in his son's music. It kicked off a great reminder of how music plays such an important role in our lives.
Wishing all of you a perfect day and one filled not only with great friends and family, but time to enjoy the kind of music that simply makes you feel good and pushes your creativity to new heights. Always go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with the people you appreciate most in your life.
And from my Dad's favorite conductor when I was a kid...
"Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable."
Happy Sunday everybody!
"Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive, fully aware."
Thich Nhat Hanh
It's Sunday morning, and this is my third attempt at writing Sunday Morning Reflections. The first was going to be about experiences at ShutterFest this past week, and I decided it wasn't off-track enough from photography. My second attempt was with help from Melody Beattie, and just as I was trying to determine if it was too personal, my computer had a brain fart and what I'd written was wiped out. So here I sit, loving to write on Sunday mornings and stuck with what to pull out of the equivalent of a Denny's All Meat Slam of ideas in my head!
In an attempt to settle on a theme this morning, I took my laptop and headed outside, and that's when it hit me - the importance of simply being happy. At first, it sounded so simplistic - we're all looking for happiness, but most of us miss it too much of the time. I compare it to photographers I met at ShutterFest last week who are too preoccupied with how much they still have to learn and miss how much they've grown already.
As I sit here writing, Sheila's pruning flowers in the butterfly garden; it's a gorgeous day in south Florida and I'm reflecting on where I am right now - not the pain of the path it took to get here, and not worrying about what tomorrow might hold. I'm just in the present.
"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past,
worry about the future, or anticipate troubles...
but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly."
There's that old expression about with age comes wisdom, and as I get older, I realize the definition of knowledge is really about experience. We've all made mistakes in our lives, but if we spend too much time looking in the rear view mirror, we'll miss the beauty of the road ahead of us.
So, here's my point - how about taking a few minutes right now and only thinking about your life...not yesterday or tomorrow - just the present moment? How about being grateful for everything you have in your life right now? I know for me at this point, the past doesn't count. The mistakes I've made are behind me and the door's always open for those people I've lost to come back. As trite as that may sound, there's plenty of happiness to go around and share. It's that simple.
We spend so much time dealing with our regrets instead of just following our hearts. And as I've written before, trust your heart because it knows the way!
"The cost of not following your heart, is spending the rest of your life wishing you had."
Wishing all of you a fantastic day and one where you take the time just to be happy and appreciate all the people who helped you get here! Stay focused on the now and stop worrying about yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs thanking whoever's on the other end of the hug for the happiness they've contributed to your life!
Happy Sunday everybody!
Those of you who have been following me for any length of time know that I go off track on Sunday mornings. I step away from the business side of photography and enjoy getting "out of the office."
I remember years ago Dane Sanders doing a presentation and saying "You are not your job!" (Sorry Dane if I'm paraphrasing a little) We all get to a point where it's hard to separate what we do for a living or hope to do, from who we are. You've all had those moments where you breathe, eat and sleep photography and while we're in a career path that helps people capture memories, we don't always take the time to capture our own!
One of my all-time favorite photographs, "Forever Alone" is by Jonathan Thorpe, who over the years has become a great friend, even though we only catch up at conventions and a phone call here and there. It was done for Valentine's Day several years ago, and the story behind it is Cupid has used up all his arrows, forgetting to leave one for himself.
This is a short post this morning, but with a particular goal - to remind you NOT to become Cupid. Don't become so over-focused on helping your clients capture memories that you miss out on your own. Take the time to step away from the business. Stop worrying about how much you have to learn and savor each step of your journey.
Then, looking for inspiration this morning Melody Beattie wrote about the importance of trusting what you know and closed with:
"Open your heart. Let it show you what it knows.
Learn to trust what you know. You're wiser than you think."
And there's my point...trust your heart. Learn to listen to it and live by that old line about taking time to smell the roses. Appreciate how far you've come and how much you know. Always save one of Cupid's arrows for your self!
Wishing everybody a wonderful Easter, Passover or whatever makes today special for you. Go for those eleven-second hugs with the people most important to you and don't forget a hug for that person in the mirror, who deserves the same respect and love like everybody else important in your life.
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
"I'm too busy working on my own grass to notice if yours is greener!
It's a pretty typical Sunday morning, with the exception that I woke up proud of myself for sleeping in, all the way to 7:00! What is it about aging that as you get older, you can't seem to sleep late? I was having trouble trying to figure out what was most on my mind, which is what Sunday Morning Reflections are always about.
So, here's what I did...
Just to the right of the picture above is an outdoor table and chairs. I've got boosted wifi, so I took my laptop and went to work outside. Next, I wanted to write about the experience of talking with photographers about ShutterFest this past week, both on the phone and in IMs. I couldn't find a way to get started and Googled "Quotes about Life."
*POOF* There it was the quote above, like a neon sign on a bar on Route 66. Just as I saw it, the sprinkler came on in the back yard watering the butterfly garden! It was a sign and perfect to start writing.
With ShutterFest just nine days away, the chatter in the SF forum has been deafening. The most common theme comes from relatively new photographers trying to figure out what classes they should take. The questions range from asking for opinions about different speakers to full-blown concerns about their career choice.
The thoughts I want to share this morning are about an industry I've grown to love dearly. It doesn't matter if you're a newbie coming into professional photography or a seasoned veteran needing a little help trying to jump start a new direction for your business.
We're all part of a fantastic industry, and it's loaded with people who want to help you build your career. The better you get as an artist, the more it reflects on professional photographers and the healthier the industry becomes. Sadly, too many of you waste time worrying about success, defining growth as that moment where you capture the perfect image or make the biggest sale of your life.
I won't deny there's an incredible amount of satisfaction when you realize you can make money doing something you love, but if you're having a Ramen noodle moment, and wondering if you made the right choice, think about your passion for the craft and what brought you here. Then think about this - there isn't an artist in this business who hasn't had moments of doubt and even outright fear over their career choice.
We all have heroes, and one of mine is Joe McNally. He spoke one year at Skip's Summer School, and he openly talked about times when business was slow, and he couldn't pay his staff. He shared stunning images that had been rejected by editors at different magazines. He talked about those days when things didn't go as planned. But, throughout his presentation, you couldn't help but notice his passion for the craft and his love for photography. You never heard one moment of doubt that there was any other career he could have chosen to bring him this much joy or make his life so rich.
And here's my point - there is no success fairy in any business, let alone photography. Your success is defined as your growth. You know how to hold focus on your camera, so hold focus on your goals. Define success by how far you've come NOT how far you have to go. Take building your skill set one step at a time. Ask for help when you need it, but stop questioning your decisions. Stop looking at everyone else and appreciate the person looking back at you in the mirror every morning. None of us know the challenges someone else has faced, so the grass might seem greener from where you're standing, but you don't know what it took them to get there...or how long!
And, to those of your worried about what classes to take at ShutterFest...remember, growth only happens outside your comfort zone! Take classes where you need the most help to raise the bar on your skill set, and your understanding of marketing and business.
Wishing everybody the perfect day with family, friends and one filled with a sense of accomplishment for another week doing something you love and growing in the process. Always go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs and cherish time.
Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like!
Happy Sunday everybody...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
PS Ten years ago Sheila and I visited the butterfly exhibit at one of the museums in Cleveland. Then three years ago we were in the Butterfly Conservatory in Key West. Finally when moving to this house almost 2 1/2 years ago, putting in a butterfly garden became a priority. In the process I've discovered I love to play in the dirt. The garden has created an endless supply of peaceful and reflective moments for both of us. It's become our own little quiet and secure corner of the world. And, like most things you love doing; each minute of work we put into it seems to come back to us tenfold!
If you've followed me for even the shortest amount of time you know, I always step away from business, marketing and technique on Sunday mornings. It's my way of recharging my battery, and I'm not sure if it helps me focus on the new week ahead, or it's like a great dessert at the end of the previous week.
What's making this morning different is there's absolutely no hesitation in what I want to write about. The idea popped into my head yesterday when Dawn Davis sent me two more images of her husband Bob with the fast becoming infamous ShutterFest '17 poster.
Here's the short backstory. One of the fun benefits of speaking at ShutterFest is the banners they hang in the trade show area of all the speakers each year. I've had the ones from 2016 and 2017 hanging in my garage for the last two years. They make Sheila, and me laugh, but they also hide a lot of junk in storage. They're like all the sins hidden by wallpaper in a home! LOL
Since the banners at ShutterFest hang with visibility on both sides for two different speakers, when I got mine home in 2017, Bob Davis was on the flip-side. I told him I'd separate them years ago, but never got around to it. When Bob's wife and mother-in-law were coming for dinner a week ago, I knew it was time to have some fun and turned it around. Opening the garage, there he was. It was a classic moment and perfect for a few laughs and a little memory-making.
The poster went home with Dawn and as you can see it's getting plenty of mileage on the laugh highway in Chicago. Bob hung it in their daughter's closet to start and then when he and Dawn were out, his daughter moved it to over their tub in the master bath!
With these images she sent me, Dawn wrote:
So my kids have this ongoing joke with their dad about how everybody knows him everywhere we go. Someone will always says “Are you Bob Davis?” It always makes our kids roll their eyes. So my husband thought it would be hilarious to hang his banner in our daughter’s closet. She found it tonight and texted us saying she literally thought she was going to die.
And that brings me to my first point this morning.
We're in a stressful and challenging business. Any small business owner is feeling the pressure of changes in the economy, customer retention, maintaining a steady flow of revenue and the list goes on and on. In the process, we forget to laugh or for that matter, help others laugh!
Forgetting to laugh or just not laughing enough is the stuff that ages you before your time. Laughter feeds your soul, and your soul is like a locomotive - it's what pulls the train no matter how many cars are behind it!
"You don't stop laughing because you grow older. You grow older because you stop laughing."
We're an industry built on a foundation of friendships. Bob, Dawn and I have been "friends" for years, but we never got quality time together. Every conversation was always in passing at a trade show or convention without the time to really share very much. When I heard Dawn was coming down to visit her parents just 90 minutes away, it was the perfect opportunity to reinforce the foundation of friendship we had and invest some quality time.
It's essential for you to build your skill set as an artist, but it's even more important to expand that skill set with great friendships and in turn plenty of laughter. It's an investment in your life that will NEVER depreciate, and in fact, great friends become a critical ingredient to fuel your soul, your creativity and your passion for life!
And to Bob, Dawn and their daughter who I've never met...thanks for the chuckles; thanks for being great friends and Sheila and I are looking forward to more time together and adding to an already great foundation!
"Friends are the people who make you smile brighter, laugh louder and live better."
Wishing everybody an outstanding day and time to appreciate friends - quality time, not a "wave-by" while multi-tasking and doing something else. You've got to stop for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs and make an investment of sharing quality time. Recognize how important it is to cherish those people who mean the most to you.
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
"The 3 C's in life: Choice, Chance, Change. You must make the Choice, to take the Chance,
if you want anything in life to Change."
Typical of some Sunday mornings, I woke up and had no idea what to write about, but I knew I had to go off track a little from my usual. As I wandered through quotes on different topics the one above seemed to light up like a neon sign!
Tomorrow is my tenth anniversary of giving my notice to leave Rangefinder Magazine and WPPI. It was after the 2009 convention, and most of my friends and family thought I was nuts. After all, I had been part of the biggest convention in WPPI history, but very few people knew the whole story behind my decision to leave. Plus, the economy was horrible, and unemployment was at an all-time high - but it was still time to move on.
I had decided to stop living vicariously through many of you and see if I could walk the talk as an entrepreneur. My entire life I'd played it safe and always worked for other companies, but my internal clock was going off and screaming, "Go for it!" As it turns out, it's one of the best decisions I've ever made, and while I wish I had done it earlier in my life, the truth is I didn't have all the tools I needed.
So making the Choice to leave was easy, but actually taking a Chance was the tough part. That's where the importance of having a great partner came in, and Sheila was instrumental in helping me travel an entirely new path. But sometimes Change is the toughest component in those three "C"s" because change is constant.
Think about things you do in the way you run your business today versus a year or two ago. Consumer trends, technology, social media are all moving targets. Nothing is a constant and every day it seems like there's another paradigm shift. Just when we think we've found the perfect recipe for some aspect of success, something changes.
For example, that first summer of 2009, four months after leaving Rangefinder/WPPI, we launched Skip's Summer School with the talented team above. I thought we had the perfect program, with 350 people joining us in Las Vegas that summer. We stopped the program after 2013 when the market was flooded with educational opportunities both live and online. The SCU blog was founded that year as well and keeps changing with new podcasts, videos and better ways to share content. The business was changing and so was my focus.
And finally, here's my point. You can't grow in business today if you hate change. Our industry is changing continually. How we communicate and share images is a never-ending stream of expanded reach. We have to adapt to grow, and we're forced to make choices and take chances every day.
So as you dream about making a change in your life, but you're afraid to take that first step here are two of my favorite quotes, both from unknown authors.
"Stop calling it a dream. It's time to call it a plan!"
"Many people are afraid of the dark, but the real tragedy are those who are afraid of the light."
Wishing you a terrific Sunday, or Monday since many of you are on the other side of the world. Take a little time today to appreciate the potential for Change in front of you, while at the same time recognizing all the changes you see in your rearview mirror! Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with the people who mean the most to you. They're the ones who will be by your side as you make the Choices, to take the Chances that lead to the Changes that help you grow and thrive!
It's Sunday morning, and I'm going off-track from photography, but not too far away from something I've grown to love about our craft...the combination of cyberspace and friendships.
Here's the short backstory: In November 2014 I was putting together a spotlight profile about a Tamron Image Master, Kevin A. Gilligan. The SCU blog was less than a year old, and Kevin's story and images were all part of the relatively new partnership in social media with Tamron USA. Even when I know it's going to be okay, I ALWAYS call the artist before using their images. I called Kevin, and that was the start of a very special friendship I've grown to cherish.
Over the years we've spoken on the phone dozens of times, and covered a wide range of topics, many completely outside photography. With each call, the friendship grew a little more. Kevin was even willing to share a few guest blogs, and his DIY post about holding your own exhibition contained so much useful information I had to run it in three parts. I'm sharing the links below because it's Spring and many of you are thinking about doing your own exhibit. If you've ever thought about doing your own photography show, take the time to follow Kevin's suggestions.
So, over the last five years, the friendship just kept growing, but the two of us had never met face to face. His sister and brother-in-law live only a few miles from us part of the year, and the four of us have gotten out to dinner a few times...we were getting closer to meeting! Finally, a few weeks ago, while in LA Sheila and I got over to Kevin's house and hung out for the day with him and his family. We'd finally done it!
What got me thinking about the friendship this morning was a trip to the post office yesterday and a package from Kevin. In it was a metal print of the image above, one my favorites from his work and a thank you note. It was a complete surprise, but our home is like a gallery, and you already know from my previous posts how much I cherish the friendships in this industry.
Next month we'll be in St. Louis, teaching at ShutterFest. Then in August, I'll be teaching at ClickCon in Chicago. Different programs, different people, but all sharing a common denominator - meeting friends face to face who have only been together in cyberspace. It's one of the most important and beneficial reasons for attending every possible conference/convention you can find the time.
As I've written dozens of times in the past, the best part of this industry has NOTHING to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. So to my good buddy Kevin, thanks for being there so many times, on so many calls and finally in person!
Sometimes you meet a person and you just click - you're comfortable with them,
like you've known them your whole life, and you don't have to pretend to be anyone or anything!
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday and a day filled with time to nurture your friendships. Cherish that time together because it's what makes life so special. Always go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs. Even in cyberspace if you focus hard enough you can reinforce that special bond you share.
Happy Sunday everybody...or if you're on the other side of the world, Monday.
PS Interested in seeing more of Kevin's work? Just click on his image of Manhattan Beach Pier at Sunrise above.
"May your day feel as good as taking a perfect selfie on the fist try!"
I guess I'm finally back to a level of normalcy for a Sunday morning. It's early; Sheila's still asleep, and I'm typing away and certainly off the usual topics of business and marketing in photography. However, I started the day with the perfect "gift" from good friend Suzette Allen - six selfies from their visit here last week. Well, if you know Suzette and Jonny, you'll know that between the two of them they've made selfies into a pure art form.
As I was writing the most recent Fast Food Friday, which I didn't get published until Saturday morning, I wanted to include a photo of the four of us. Suzette and Jonny spent a couple of days with us at the end of last week, and I knew they'd taken a lot of selfies. I fired off a quick IM, and when I didn't hear back, I grabbed one from a past visit with them for the post. She finally caught up to her FB mail, and this morning I woke up to six selfies from a few days ago.
Photography is about capturing memories, and that puts selfies at the very top of the list of classic techniques. Even more important, they need to be in your skill set. Suzette and Jonny are masters of the craft and while here last week they captured one classic moment after another.
And that brings me right to my point this morning:
I remember my Dad's first 35mm camera, an Agfa rangefinder my Uncle got him while in Europe. It wasn't an SLR, but it had all the manual controls, and he bought a light meter to get the right settings for great exposures. Over the next ten years there were thousands of slides shot and often painfully watched as Dad presented every image on a pop-up screen after taking hours to put them into slide holders in each cartridge. Years later I remember Hasselblad's Ernst Wildi telling me the difference between an amateur and a professional photographer..."Amateurs show you ALL of the images!"
Dad's favorite feature was a mechanical self-timer built into the controls. Dad never bought a tripod because it would have been one more thing to carry - instead, tables, chairs, car roofs - any flat surface became home to his camera for 10 seconds allowing him to be with his family in shot after shot over the years. It was a technical marvel to suddenly have Dad in some of our memory-making moments.
Well, technology has come a long way from mechanical timers, and the quality of cell phone images gives us all a chance to capture more of the story of those special moments in our lives with minimal production. But most of us don't grab them often enough, and with Sheila and me they're rare. Stay with me, because there's a lesson here! LOL
Take the time to develop your selfie-skills. Capture those moments destined to become great memories so you can appreciate and savor them later on. Suzette and Jonny's visit is a perfect example. While I've got all kinds of images of birds, boats, sunsets and a couple of them during their visit, I don't have one shot of the four of us. Not one memory-making image of four good friends hanging out, laughing and appreciating a level of quality time we all talk about, but rarely get.
Suzette and Jonny's selfies are a wonderful reminder of friendship and the passion we share for far more than just the craft! Unlike the millions of selfies that more often are short for "self-centered," these tell stories about great friendships!
I wish all of you an outstanding Sunday, and time with friends and family who need to be in your selfies. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs and now and then grab a storytelling selfie. Remember today's selfies are going to be tomorrow's memories.
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world from Florida!
What a strange few weeks it's been - until you go through it, nobody can describe the process or the pain of losing a pet. And it doesn't matter how your brain reminds you that pets don't live forever, or how lucky you were to have had such a fantastic friend in the first place - it's all about the hole in your heart, which is anything but logical.
Well, here I am on a Sunday morning and focused on some different feelings that came out of nowhere yesterday. Directly they have very little to do with photography, but everything to do with memories and the appreciation of looking back.
As a kid, my Dad and I collected antique musical instruments. My mom would drag us into antique shops looking for odd size plates, and we needed something more relevant to us. He played trumpet all through high school, college and even in a band in the Army Air Corps in WWII. I played trumpet and French horn in high school, so music became a sidebar hobby for us. Over the years we built quite a collection.
However, my most favorite piece is my Dad's cornet. It's been sitting on a shelf on a bookcase for the last two years and slowly turning black as the tarnish took over everything but my memories. I decided it was time to pull out the silver polish and clean it up. I with I had done a before shot because it was completely black.
When I was done, I grabbed a small roll of black velvet and captured a few shots, playing with a LUMIX FZ1000, available light and post-processing in Luminar. As I fooled around with the images, there were so many great memories that came back.
Too many of us spend so much time focused on the day in day out challenges of business and life that we forget to take those important walks down Memory Lane. We're so preoccupied with defining success that we don't appreciate those moments when a look in the rearview mirror is just what we need.
Cleaning Dad's cornet was like rubbing a magic lantern. It took me back to seeing him smile every time he could still triple-tongue a note and play Flight of the Bumble Bee (you've got to be a trumpet player to appreciate that) and he did it right up into his 90's. I thought about all the great times we had together carrying some of our instruments out of antique shops in pieces. I laughed over the tuba we bought for $5.00 and took it home in three shopping bags. One smile after another came over me and then the biggest smile of all...thinking about Molly the Wonder Dog and my Dad hanging out together right now.
Wishing all of you a terrific day and time to savor those memories and appreciate whatever it takes to get them to bubble to the surface. So, whether it's looking at old photographs or just something in your home that reminds you of special moments from days gone by - don't rush the process. It's like drinking a glass of great wine - take it slow and appreciate it.
And as always, grab those eleven-second hugs with those people most special in your life, because the time you have with them today will be those memories you savor tomorrow.
Happy Sunday everybody!
This is a little different for a Sunday Morning Reflections. In fact, it would probably work for Marketing Monday, because there's a great lesson here. We've all heard and used the expression, "You can never go back." Yet, I just enjoyed a couple of experiences that entirely challenge that statement and prove it wrong.
Leaving Las Vegas, I had business in LA and thought it would be fun to go back to my old stomping ground in Santa Monica. I haven't been back since leaving Rangefinder/WPPI ten years ago. We got in Friday afternoon and headed to a couple of old favorites, wandering up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu. On the way back, while it was a little early to have dinner for most people, our stomachs were still on east coast time.
I was ecstatic to see an old favorite still there and open, the Reel Inn. It's nothing fancy - just a good solid seafood restaurant with a fun atmosphere and great food. Putting in our order, I told the kid behind the counter how I hadn't been there in over ten years, and I was so glad they were still in business. His answer was perfect, "Oh yeah, we're still rockin' it!"
Yes, I'm about to turn this into a life lesson, or at the very least a business lesson: Most of you are in business for yourselves, and there's a lesson from the Reel Inn. While their menu has changed and grown, it's their quality that's kept them in business. It's their reputation for excellent service, fresh food, reasonable prices and the fun of a completely relaxed atmosphere that's kept them in business for so many years.
Then I had one more real-time flashback yesterday driving down Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica. We drove by Bay Cities Deli, and I had to stop. It's one of the most incredible delis I've ever been in, but their claim to fame ten years ago was their selection of subs. I had to have a "Godmother." Sheila thought I was nuts - after all, we were headed to dinner in less than an hour, and I'm running in for a small sub as my appetizer!
And here I go with that same lesson again...The place was jammed. I pulled a number, 87, and they were only on 65. The selection of everything from sandwiches to salads to prepackaged goods, wine, pasta, breads, etc. hasn't changed. As I was waiting in line one of their staff pulled anybody out who wanted a cold sandwich. They were handling the overflow out of their catering kitchen on the other side of the store. Service was the issue, and in minutes I had my sandwich and was headed out the door. It was worth every bite!
I'm focused on a couple of simple points this morning. First, don't let anything stand in the way of the reputation you're trying to build on quality, service, and consistency. They're the foundation of your success and will never be replaced by anything more important, not even price! Second, when you maintain a standard of excellence, people will come back, and just like the pure joy I've had in the last couple of days, you really can go back!
It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.
If you think about that you'll do things differently.
As always, I'm wishing you all a terrific day ahead. Take the time to think about your reputation and all the work you're doing to build your business. Along the way, don't forget to go for those long therapeutic hugs with the people who matter most in your life. They're a huge part of the process.
"It's just a bad day. Not a bad life!"
It's an almost normal Sunday morning. I'm up earlier than I'd like to be - just can't seem to sleep past 6:30 am anymore! Sheila's still asleep, and I'm typing away on this morning's post. The difference is missing Molly the Wonder Dog, but I've written about her enough over the last week. I know if I write about the experience again, I'm going to send many of you away from today's post screaming! LOL
Here's what's keeping me going...the timing of WPPI. I'm not sure I've ever looked forward to a convention more than this upcoming trip. It's got very little to do with the convention itself but catching up to old friends, making new ones and my network, which in all honesty helped me through the pain of the last week.
I've written a lot about all the practical reasons you should attend every possible convention/conference you can, but the core reason is one word, "friendships." I've already made a list of people I want to catch up to, and even though I'll wind up missing half of them, it'll be the hunt that makes a convention like WPPI so much fun.
It's also about new friends or friends I've only met in cyberspace that I'll get to meet face to face for the first time. And that's the perfect cue for - WARNING - some shameless self-promotion. I'm going to be doing two programs in the Panasonic Booth (#934). First one is noon on Wednesday and the second at 3:00 pm on Thursday. They're short 20-minute programs, each one hitting on "low-hanging fruit," easy things you can do to help your business and blogging.
I can honestly say this past week was one of the worst and longest of my life, but it would have been even worse without so many of you, great friendships, our mutual passion for the craft and the anticipation of catching up to a whole bunch of great people this coming week. And, all along the way old photographs have helped bring so many incredible memories into the spotlight.
It's so easy to lose sight of how good life is when you feel like there's an ugly black cloud hanging over your head, and that's just how I felt at times. When I was a kid, my Dad and I would fight over the Sunday comics every week. He loved Joe Btfsplk, a character in Al Capp's Li'l Abner comic strip. Btfsplk always had a cloud over his head running around in a perpetual state of negativity.
That brings me right to the bottom line this morning...you've chosen a career path supported by a fantastic industry, loaded with people who share not only your passion for the craft but life, family, friendships and especially watching each other's backs! I know it sounds pretty sappy, but we're all here for each other, and once again, all of you came through for me. And, with WPPI right around the corner - the anticipation of seeing everybody has me on a terrific high! In fact, for the first time, I started packing four days before leaving!
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday with a focus on everything you have in your life rather than what's missing. Go for those therapeutic eleven-second hugs with the people most special in your lives and while it's okay to look in your rearview mirror now and then to appreciate the memories, when you put them in front of you, talk about and share them, they become even more vibrant and unique!
"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory."
Happy Sunday everybody...unless you're on the other side of the world, then it's Monday, but the sentiment is still the same!
It's anything but a typical Sunday morning. Yes, as usual it's early, Sheila is still asleep, and the house is eerily quiet and still dark. I'm alone with my thoughts, but having let go of Molly the Wonder Dog on Friday, her presence at my feet is what's missing, but that's only in my head. In my heart, she's right here where she always is.
Over the years I've talked about Sunday Morning Reflections as something I write that's often more therapeutic than informative. This morning is definitely on the therapy side of the balance. My life has morphed into that of a writer, and I dove out of bed with a need not to attract sympathy but to express my appreciation to so many of you.
The short version of losing Molly is she had Cancer, and while it was in several areas, the most massive tumor was in her liver. I made a decision early on that I would never put her through the pain of prolonging her life just for me and chose to let God direct the rest of her journey. Surprising her vet, she stayed wholly active and was still chasing tennis balls right up to 24 hours before we let her go.
The last few days Molly wasn't doing well. She wasn't eating, sleeping poorly, had erratic breathing, gagging and coughing a lot and slowing down. So, into visit the vet, Dr. Clarkson we went. She gave me three choices and told me she wasn't letting me leave without me choosing one of them. (A side note: Having a great doctor through a process like this doesn't stop the pain, but it does make it easier to handle. I'm so grateful to her and the techs at the clinic.)
As I talked about what was the right thing to do with the vet, the tears flowed non-stop. It was embarrassing as I reached for the Kleenex box a few dozen times. But in the end, while it was about to be horrible for me, I knew what had to be done for Molly. The night before when she was doing poorly, I wound up sleeping on the floor next to her. In the process of saying my goodbyes I promised her I'd never let her suffer - never let her quality of life diminish beyond normal aging.
And finally, I'm at my point this morning...this is about quality of life, but not just for Molly, but the help so many of you have provided to my life. I shared letting Molly go on Facebook, and in just hours there were a couple of hundred comments and 400 likes and crying emoticons. At a time when my quality of life emotionally was at a low, so many of you shared your condolences, love, prayers, and wisdom.
John Braswell wrote, "It is such a shame that our dogs don't live longer than they do...thoughts your way," and then he shared something with me that so hit home. It didn't stop my tears, but it did put my mind and heart in a better place.
But the story doesn't end here: What's bizarre is that at 2:45 am, I heard Molly bark and it woke me up. It had become her new routine in the fight with Cancer, letting me know she needed to go out. It was so real that I actually got up and walked to my home office where her bed used to be. I felt her presence, know that she came to me in a dream and went back to bed with a bitter sweet smile.
"I came to you late last night..." the words from what John had sent me, couldn't have been more real.
Then, the next day, Jeanne Harris sent me something to read that along with another hundred comments had a huge impact on me. It's an article called "On Losing a Dog" and so worth reading but it ends with:
"As I’ve said before, a dog can’t change the world but they can change your world. And if each of us can pass along even a fraction of the unmitigated, world changing love we receive from our dogs? Maybe we can see about that whole changing the world thing. Today we cry and howl. Tomorrow we wake up and change the world the same way Dutch did – one small act of selfless love at a time."
So, to all of you who have sent prayers and memories of my 13 1/2 years with Molly, thank you. I know it's sappy, but for so many years I've talked about this industry being a family. We share a passion for the craft, but more importantly, a passion for helping each other.
Wishing you an incredible Sunday and even more important than all the times I've written about it in the past - go for those eleven-second hugs with the people most important in your life, and don't forget your pet! That unconditional love is unmatched to anything you will ever experience.
Happy Sunday everybody!
"Without change there'd be no butterflies!"
If you're new to the SCU blog, I ALWAYS go off track and step out of the photography arena with a post on Sunday. I started writing Sunday Morning Reflections because it was a great way for me to reflect on my life while still being relevant to so many of yours. Well, here I am this morning, taking a drive down Memory Lane, rather than a stroll. Driving is faster, and I can use my rear view mirror now and then. There's nothing wrong in looking back at where you've been as long as you stay focused on what's ahead of you.
Every year at this time I look back a little and then get totally pumped over what's ahead. It was ten years ago I was preparing for my last WPPI convention. It was the biggest conference WPPI had ever held. John Popper and Blues Traveler were the band for the Nikon sponsored party; Rangefinder Magazine was over 350 pages; the WPPI ShowGuide was over 100 pages, and everything was pointing to the largest attended convention in professional photography.
On April 1, 2009, after a series of absurd confrontations with the owner of the company, I decided it was time to head out on my own. It was 2009, the economy was in the toilet, and so many people, including the guy looking back at me in the mirror, thought I was nuts.
"Embrace the uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won't have titles until much later."
And that's all the looking in the rearview mirror this morning's post needs. Whether it really does or our hearts make it happen, everything always works out for the better.
The biggest lesson I've learned is that every change in our lives, whether overwhelming or minor, all have their own personality, and a path loaded with the potential for growth. While some of them are messy, they each add to the richness of our lives. Learning to appreciate the possibility that exploring the unknown brings doesn't happen by itself. For me, it's thanks to Sheila, a circle of incredible friends and an industry I've grown to love dearly.
And *poof* here comes the point this morning. It's Valentine's Day this week, and we're all out looking for that one card that says it all. Ever notice how you can always find the card that says exactly what you're feeling? That's because we're all connected by so many of the same feelings, including those of the writers at Hallmark! We're all chasing similar versions of the same dreams - of love, companionship, success, and happiness.
"Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end."
While change can scare the hell out of us, it's what we need to keep growing. It's the obstacles we fear that contribute the most to the value of our lives. Photography is a career where all of us know technology is continually changing and we never stop learning, experimenting and pushing the edge of the creative envelope. Life is no different - it changes without notice and tests everything we've learned to date - we adjust, grow and move on to the next challenge.
Learn to accept your fear of the unknown. Every change in your life, whether outside your control or self-inflicted, is an opportunity to soak up another lesson. And, just like those things you've learned with a camera in your hands, you're capturing your life with your brain, and your heart and shooting "neuro chromes" - no camera, just memories to appreciate.
Wishing all of you a day filled with love, peace and an appreciation for everything and everyone who's helped make you who you are. There is no escape from the growing pains you had when you were a kid, they just changed and now involve your heart and soul. Cherish them, because each time they help make you better, stronger and help you on the journey ahead and wherever it's taking you. And as always, go for those eleven-second hugs with the people most special in your life!
"The first step to getting somewhere is to decide that you're not going to stay where you are!"
It's a typical Sunday morning, but maybe just a little different. I've got a greater appreciation for Molly the Wonder Dog asleep near my feet. And, I woke up knowing exactly what I wanted to write about, which is a spin-off from a conversation I had with an old buddy, Ken Sklute, two weeks ago, just before we recorded his episode of "Why?"
"Why?" is most often one image and the backstory to go with it, and Ken sent me four. I looked at the images, all of them beautiful, and rolled my eyes, saying to Sheila who was in my office, "Doesn't anybody listen?" Then I called him, figuring we could decide which image had the best story and we'd go from there.
Within minutes, I felt stupid for ever questioning why he sent me several different photographs. He chose four because of the point he wanted to make - he wanted to talk about the importance of pre-visualization BEFORE you click the shutter. "Instead of people going out with a camera in their hands to see what they can find, what if they thought about what they wanted to photograph beforehand? What if they pre-visualized how they wanted an image to look before picking up their camera?"
It was a perfect topic/backstory for his episode, and his insight into life as an artist. Pre-visualization isn't a new concept. "Previs" is used extensively in filmmaking, and Ansel Adams talked about it as "the ability to anticipate a finished image before making the exposure." But as Ken talked, I found myself thinking of it as a stronger commitment to things beyond photography.
Stay with me, because it's dangerous when I start sounding like an episode of "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey" from early SNL shows! Here's my point:
Over the last few years, more of my life is pre-visualized. I wake up visualizing it's going to be a great day. Sheila and I walk almost every morning, and I find myself excited about what we're going to see on our walk, even though it's the same four streets in the neighborhood each time. I come back to my office with a certain optimism when I turn on the computer and look at what I need to write; calls I need to make or things I need to read. I'm already visualizing new ideas, things to write about, and projects to develop.
I've mentioned reading Melodie Beattie every morning for a dose of inspiration. We have to feed our brains and heart just like our stomachs! Well, this morning is a perfect example, because she wrote a short piece called "Break Through Your Resistance," and it's worth paraphrasing here to share:
"We sometimes resist new lessons...what we resist the most is likely to be what we most need to learn...
Lessons require us to let go of old feelings, old beliefs. If they didn't, they wouldn't be lessons.
We'd already know them...We need to embrace the surprise element of life.
Embrace the mystery of life as it unfolds, as the lessons appear, as we grow and change...
Remember the point of greatest resistance is often the point of greatest learning."
Now put together Ken's thoughts on pre-visualization with Melody Beattie's thoughts on breaking through your resistance. I'm not suggesting it's easy, and I'm still work in progress, but after being accused of repeatedly being too much of an industry cheerleader, it's an explanation of why I love this industry and my life. It's why my life is fun and rich with smiles, a lot of laughs and even the tears and sadness here and there help define the intensity of the journey.
And here's the bottom line - because on Sunday mornings there's always some reason I'm sharing what's bouncing around in my head. All of us need to not only pre-visualize what we're doing with a camera in our hands but with our lives in our hands. We have more control than we think we do and it starts with our attitude.
"Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude."
Wishing everybody a terrific day and hoping you'll take the time right now to pre-visualize the day's potential and the great images you're going to capture, with or without a camera! As always, scoop up those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with everyone most special in your life and make it the day you visualize from this point forward.
Happy Sunday everybody...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
PS I mentioned Ken sent me four images as examples of his thoughts on pre-visualization. I only used three in the episode of "Why?" But, considering today's topic I chose to use the fourth one to share in today's post. As always with everything he does, it's spectacular.
If I was going to put a more specific title on this post, it would be The Art of Saying Good-bye, but I want to minimize the drama. Even though It's a tough topic, I am NOT writing this for sympathy, just sharing the mix of emotions I'm dealing with, which is what Sunday Morning Reflections are always about.
Everyone thinks they have the best dog and none of them are wrong.
Molly, the Wonder Dog, has been with me for 13 1/2 years and has pretty much never left my side. Over the years we even made a few road trips together. In 2009, on the drive from California to Ohio over three long days of driving, she listened without comment as I talked about my future with Sheila. LOL
Recently she seemed off a beat - waking us up in the middle of the night to go out, and now and then having difficulty with her back legs when getting up. So, off to the vet, we went.
After a barrage of tests, he didn't like her liver numbers. He put her on a nutritional supplement used to improve liver function. Within a couple of days she was acting better.
He also referred us to a pet oncologist. The doc did an ultrasound, as we held Molly on her back, pretty much panic-stricken, while her stomach and lower abdomen were scanned. And there it was - a big ugly tumor on her liver. The prognosis, without doing a biopsy, was whether malignant or benign it will eventually end her life. I cried the whole drive home, acting like I was saying good-bye that night.
All of this happened December 18, and since then, Molly's had plenty of energy. She's back to sleeping through the night. Her back leg problem comes and goes. Every day at 4:00 we're out chasing tennis balls, and she's the same goofball she's always been. She rarely leaves my side during the day...her appetite is terrific...and we reenact a series of obnoxious "Timmy and Lassie" scenes every day.
So, here's the bottom line...I wish I didn't know what was going on and hadn't done the ultra-sound. I know she's in no pain and if I didn't know about the tumor, she's never seemed healthier, just older and now and then a little slower.
The vet had suggested we do a biopsy and I turned it down. Molly's almost 14, and I will not prolong her life with any level of pain. Like so many of you, when that day comes I'll let her go, and I'll be miserable, but I am so grateful to have her in my life. I wish I could have squashed my need to dig deeper into her ailments and just let things take their course.
I look back on friends who have had to let go of their pets, and so often the heart-breaking posts they've shared on Facebook. I've empathized with their loss, hugged Molly and have been grateful it's not something I had to deal with at the time...well, it's different when the problem is on your doorstep.
And there you have it - the art of saying good-bye to your pup in a situation like this, is just not to say good-bye. I'm packing in daily memories, plenty of ball-chasing and every minute appreciating how lucky I am to have Molly the Wonder Dog in my life. Now and then I slip with a tear, but overall, I'm keeping my big boy pants on!
Photography through all of this is playing an enormous role. Every print and digital file I have has become more valuable to me.
Molly's one of the most photographed pups in the industry having been captured on film and digital over the years by Bambi Cantrell, Judy Host, Carey Schumacher, Nicole Begley and her entire pet photography class here in Sarasota (which is where I met Janet DelTuva), Helen Yancy, Suzette Allen, and most recently Robert Vanelli. Those photographs have become a collection of memories that will always be priceless to me. They're a constant reminder of the power of imaging and the importance of what we do for a living!
So, I wish all of you an outrageously great Sunday. Cherish the time with family, friends and the pets in your life. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs, including ones with your pup. And while a lot of people think we're nuts talking to our dogs as if they understand, don't believe for a second they don't! Most important of all, don't waste a minute not making memories - life is too short.
Happy Sunday and thanks for listening!
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
"Don't anticipate life; meet it. When you try to anticipate, you're being an idiot,
because nobody's got the brain to outwit nature.
I'm talking here about patience, about believing in yourself.
I'm talking here about having courage to wait.
You will get what you deserve.
Typical of most Sunday Morning Reflections, I start out thinking about things I've read over the past week and conversations I've had with various photographers. Often the idea behind a Reflections post begins with something that's come up during the past few days.
Maybe it's because it's the start of a new year or the slow season, but I've picked up on so many artists who are waiting for success. They act like any day now the Success Fairy is going to sprinkle magic dust on them and their images and reputation will skyrocket to the top!
So, they sit and wait. They don't do much promoting of their work; they're not practicing very much to raise their skill level and the longer it takes for "success," the more they blame everybody but the face in the mirror.
This is a tough industry to be in. It's incredibly competitive, and trends and styles seem to be constantly changing, and keeping up with technology isn't easy either. But, if you've got the passion, then most of you find ways to pull the reigns in on your frustration. You've already realized how much you love the craft, and know there's nothing else you'd rather be doing.
So, however, you define success, and we all have different goals, there are two common denominators to achievement - believing in yourself and patience. I guess that's what drew me to today's opening quote.
Always believe in yourself. No matter who's around you being negative or thrusting negative energy at you,
totally block it off. Because whatever you believe, you become.
Patience is not simply the ability to wait.
It's how we behave while we're waiting.
There's my point this morning. If there is a Success Fairy, she's only touching those hearts who believe in themselves and more often or not we think of her as "luck." But luck comes in all shapes and sizes and starts with being thankful for everything and everyone in our lives. The glass really is half full for all of us, as long as we stay focused on the prize, which is all about being happy.
Before technology brought auto-focus to us, we all focused our cameras manually. Looking through the lens we had to decide what we wanted sharpest in every image. And we played with depth of field to capture what was most important. Well, your career path and your life are no different...and there is no auto-focus.
Have fun being patient. Appreciate your growing skill set and everything you need to do to keep raising the bar on the quality of your work, business and relationships. And, all along the way, never give up on believing in yourself.
Two of the significant lessons in my life I've seen proven over and again are: Everything happens for a reason, and everything always works out for the better. That doesn't mean you can just kick back and wait - you've got to stay focused on your happiness and take those opportunities to grow whenever you can. Just don't give up on your dreams!
Never give up on something you really want.
It's difficult to wait, but more difficult to regret.
And as always, I wish everybody a terrific day ahead. For those of you caught in the storm zones which seem to be nationwide...stay warm and dry, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs and most important of all, remind whoever you're hugging how much they mean in your life. Don't forget they believe in you just as much as you believe in yourself.
I woke up this morning and went through the usual Sunday morning routine of thinking about something to write about. Several times in the last few days I've looked around my office and our home, doing these little inventories of life like we all do, and said to Sheila, "How did we get here?" Then wandering through Facebook a lot of friends seem to be playing the "Ten Year Game," putting up their first headshot for Facebook with today's.
Well, it suddenly hit me, in one of those OMG-cartoon-character-moments with the imaginary lightbulb going off above my head it's ten years ago this April I resigned from Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI to head out on my own. Why I left is no longer relevant. I look back on that time in my life as one of those "Ah-Ha" moments when I made the right decision. I'm grateful to so many people who helped me realize the dream of my own business; stuck by me through some scary times and all along the way became a part of the fabric of my life - which seems to be a never-ending tapestry that's always changing.
Rather than take a nostalgic look back, I'm more excited about looking forward. After all, through several thousand posts over the last ten years, I've shared just about everything that's happened in my life. It's more fun to look ahead and here are handful of examples:
In looking ahead, there's one last major point that's changing, which started a year or two ago. As I look back, it has a lot to do with aging and time. I'm at a point in my life where I realize every day how fast the hands on the clock are spinning. It has a lot to do with looking at your life and seeing less time ahead than the decades behind.
I want to waste less time in the new year. I'm tired of not getting quality time with good friends. I'm tired of people I care about being out of touch. A couple of weeks ago I got a call from Claude Jodoin, which he referred to as his "annual catch up to Skip" call. It was great, as we covered what's going on in both of our lives, talked a little about the past, our old buddy Dean Collins always comes up, and just reminded each other we're both still passionate about the craft and our friendship.
And there you have it - It's time to make my point. While I love looking in that rearview mirror and the comparisons everybody is doing on Facebook with their headshots - it's more fun to think about what your next ten years are going to be like, starting with 2019. What do you want to do this year to make it different than last year? How are you going to find more time for friends, stay focused on growing your business and bring more quality into your life? What's truly important to you this morning?
Wishing everybody a day ahead filled with optimism and time to appreciate where you're going in the new year more than where you've been. Hug those special people in your life for the full therapeutic eleven-seconds and remember they're a key to your goals for the future. Take the time to appreciate how shallow life would be without them, and then focus on how important they are going forward.
We can't stop time or even slow it down, but we all can create more impact and a life that adds more smiles and laughs than frowns and tears. There's a great line Dr. Phil is credited for, "Would you rather be happy or right?" In this new year, it's more important for me to go bounding out of bed in the morning with a smile on my face than a frown and thinking about the stress of the day ahead. While stress is inevitable as a business owner, you can still work in a stress-free zone as long as you stay focused on things that make you happy.
Anybody want to join me?
Ten years from now you'll laugh about whatever's stressing you out today. So why not laugh now?
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm.
Take action towards your dreams.
Walk your talk.
Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings.
Make today worth remembering.
Dr. Steve Maraboli
Sitting here I've got my usual challenge of what to share this morning. I was thinking about what a strange first week of the new year this has been. We only had a three day week regarding business, and I finally gave up trying to catch up to anybody I wanted to talk to.
My Fast Food Friday post hit on the challenges this week, and I suggested everyone use the time to "kick back and chill." In a comment in one of the forums a photographer wrote: There is no downtime. Always working on improving process and planning marketing for the coming season for seniors and Sports. It’s the curse of entrepreneurs.
I understand what he meant, and the fact that your business needs to always be on your mind, but I still disagree. Breaking away from that "curse" is the reason I write Sunday Morning Reflections every week. It's that "curse" that's driven so many of us into a crash and burn scenario. While to some it might sound counter-productive, you've got to step away from the business and recharge your battery to develop your creativity to the max.
Here's a perfect example: This week I took my own advice and truly stepped away from most aspects of the business. I took the time to do a lot of soul-searching. I'm still surprised at my age; I don't know what I want to be when I grow up! But that doesn't mean I don't have a long list of dreams, aspirations and even a bucket list of things I want to do and places I want to go, both personally and as a couple with Sheila.
But here's my problem, and I'm anticipating I'm not alone. There's so much I want to do that it becomes overwhelming, and I have a hard time focusing. This is truly ironic since I teach workshops where I've started presentations by saying, "You know how to focus your camera, but how about your career?"
The time I took this week was instrumental in helping me map out the new year. "Map" is the key word here - none of us would leave on a cross-country trip without a roadmap, yet we do it all the time in our business. We tackle each challenge as they come up rarely taking the time to focus on what we truly want to do next.
The best part of the process was sitting down with Sheila yesterday and taking the time to talk about the new year. From trips we want to do to some personal projects, we covered so many different aspects of my business, our life and how we want 2019 to look at the end of the year.
And here's my point this morning - As you get older, you realize from your own experiences and those of friends, that you never know what tomorrow is going to bring. While we all recognize the importance of living for today, we still hold back and too often procrastinate on those things most important. We waste time. We waste energy on things that don't matter. We forget to look out for ourselves and get caught up chasing minutia.
For me, the new year really starts tomorrow. I'm excited about so many different things on the drawing board for 2019, but I'm not going to waste one minute of today thinking about it. My suggestion to all of you is the same - use this last Sunday of New Years week to enjoy the downtime. Cherish having the time to be with family, friends or merely alone to dream. Rest up, recharge your battery, do something you love doing with those people most special in your life.
As always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with the people you love and forget about tomorrow for one more day. Then, tomorrow morning, jump in with the energy and the planning you need to follow the path that seems to fit the best. And remember, the best thing about being a small business owner is that you always can change paths as long as you stay focused on what's in your heart!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.