"I woke up with no idea what I wanted to write about and turned to Melody Beattie. Well, she not only helped me organize my thoughts, but she tied in directly to a new podcast we're airing later this week.
Here's what she wrote for today:
"My friend, a clerk in a local bookstore, and I were sitting on a bench one evening about twenty feet from the edge of the Pacific Ocean. A few stars and a tiny sliver of moon softly lit the sky. We were drinking coffee and staring at the sea. "I like the ocean," my friend said, "I need to see it. It's nature's way of reminding us of eternity."
Sometimes, we zoom in on the details of our lives and all we can see is the small picture - the problems, issues, and specifics of what we need to do today. These moments are real. They're the heart of our lives. It's good to stay focused and attend to them, but sometimes we need to step back and see the big picture, too.
Visit places that remind you of eternity when you can. See the mountains. See the stars. Walk among the ancient redwoods. Stand at the ocean's door. Let nature and life remind you of eternity in ways that speak to your soul."
And here's why it was so perfect as I looked back on this past week.
Chamira Young and I did a series of podcasts together with Photofocus last year called "Beyond Technique." When the sponsor wanted to do their own podcast, it went on the back-burner. We decided to bring it back, and the first episode airs this week with an extraordinary guest and friend, Gareth Rockliffe.
What makes this first episode so unique is the topic, an idea he's been thinking about for a few months. Basically, it's the spirituality of the craft as it blends in with the way we live our lives. What started the idea was a conversation he and I had a couple of weeks ago where he mentioned how we begin our lives in "P" mode and then as we grow older, spend the rest of our lives trying to get out of it.
Melody Beattie was talking about looking at the big picture versus zooming in on the details, and I realized the strong parallel to Gareth's thoughts, and it tied in with my "macro" view of life this morning.
I didn't sleep well last night; I've got a lot on my plate I want to do today and woke up feeling stressed about getting everything done. Instead of just appreciating looking through a wide angle lens for today, I went straight to macro and the details of what I need to accomplish over the next twelve hours. In the process I lost that smile I always have getting out of bed in the morning, but between Melody Beattie and Gareth, I'm now back to the right "lens choice."
I stepped back, took a few minutes to regroup my thoughts, and here I am walking the talk. And all along the way, photography played a roll in changing my view, starting with Gareth's image above. What I loved most about it was the way he picked up on the closer view as well as the horizon and the vastness of the ocean. I found it calming, being able to almost hear the surf rolling in on the beach. (Check out Gareth's website - you won't be disappointed!)
And there it is, my point this beautiful Sunday morning: Recognize when you need to step back for the broader view of anything you're working on, but at the same time, appreciate your ability to look closer when you need to. Personally, I'm stepping back today and enjoying the big picture, realizing that everything I want to do will get done, but the best part of the day is looking through a fish-eye lens.
Wishing everybody a terrific day ahead. Take the time to appreciate the wide-angle view and all that you have in your life to be grateful for, and where needed, like a therapeutic eleven-second hug with somebody you love, switch to macro. Recognize the important role they play in your life and helping you simply be you!
Happy Sunday, everybody! (And Monday to all my friends and readers on the other side of the world.)
This is my second attempt at writing a Sunday Morning Reflections post this morning. I'm off a beat. In fact, I wrote a post I liked about looking back and the fun of nostalgia but decided to save it for Throwback Thursday. So, here's my point this morning...
There are times and projects we all need to do that come with moments when we can't focus. There is no auto-focus button in life, and there's never been an auto-composition button. So, I'm taking my own advice and going off-the-grid for the day because there are times when we need to take a step back and regroup our thoughts.
I'm going to try and walk the talk. If you're having a day like mine is starting out to be, walk away from whatever you're working on. Hit the reset button and come back when your thoughts are better defined, and you can activate focus confirmation for whatever it is you're trying to do.
Wishing everybody a terrific day and if you're just stuck on what you thought you'd do next today, don't worry about it. There's nothing wrong with wasting time when you need to waste time. But no matter what you're doing - go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with the people most important in your life. They might just be the ones to help you refocus!
Happy Sunday, everybody!
Black Iris from Georgia O'Keefe's Garden
LUMIX G9 with LUMIX Vario 14-140mm lens - f5.6 @ 1/500 ISO 200
It's a pretty typical Sunday morning. The house is incredibly quiet; Sheila's still asleep, and I'm sitting here trying to decide if what I want to share is relevant. The issue is how my perspective about time has changed as I've gotten older. I've run into so many situations lately that leave me shaking my head and realizing how many people simply treat "time" as if they had an endless supply.
I went looking for a great quote about wasting time and so many of the quotes referred to spending time on the wrong people. I'm not talking as much about people as wasting time on things that are meaningless in the long run.
Here are a few examples:
And while this might sound like a contradiction - recognize there are times when you need to recharge and kick back and just relax. Too many people think taking a break from the chaos of a tough day is wasting time.
Time you enjoy wasting isn't wasted time.
Bertrand Russell and John Lennon
That brings me right back to the beginning. Time is the one thing we will never have enough of. You don't need to be productive every minute of the day, just stop wasting time on things that don't matter. Most important of all, like drinking that bottle of wine you saved for a special occasion, savor time with special friends, working on great projects, and following your heart.
Wishing everybody an outstanding day ahead and opportunities to get the most out of time with friends and family. Take the time for those eleven-second hugs because they're therapeutic. And, during those long hugs, think about how much that person means to you and how much they've enriched your life.
I hit the computer about half an hour ago without a clue of what to write about for Sunday Morning Reflections. Part of my routine is to scroll through my home page on Facebook and catch up on what's been shared over the last day or two. In the process, I ran across a short video from Karen Kuehn of her ranch, and the peacefulness of the video hit me along with her comment, "Blessed I love my life."
As one of the industry's most outstanding artists, Karen came into my life in the late '80s when one of her images was featured in a Hasselblad campaign. We only met for a minute back then, but we caught up to each other two years ago, and here we are today as good friends.
Last month in New Mexico, we finally caught up to Karen and spent part of an afternoon on her ranch, and it couldn't have been more peaceful. Surrounded by giant willows, she planted over twenty years ago; it's a haven for creativity and stillness.
I still wasn't sure what to write about, so I grabbed one of Melody Beattie's books and for today read:
"Stillness is different from solitude, different from aloneness, different from turning off the stereo or speaking softly. Stillness is a place. You can find it in the desert or in the mountains. You can find it when you're alone or when you're in the midst of people. You can find stillness wherever you are, whatever you're going through. Stillness is a place within you. Slow down. Breathe deeply. Get quiet. Become familiar with stillness. Take time to learn its power."
And there it was - the perfect topic for today and why I enjoy writing Reflections - it's about the stillness of a Sunday morning. It's about the peacefulness as the sun's coming up. Those first morning rays bring a deep appreciation for my life, Sheila, family, great friends like Karen, and so many memories. It's stillness that allows me to savor so many moments that through the noise and craziness of any typical business day I'd miss.
Finding stillness is an art form. It takes practice to shut off the noise, block the stress and have complete control over wherever you'd like your head and heart to wander. At that moment there's no particular purpose other than to savor time.
I have yet to find a consistent recipe for stillness, but the basic ingredients are always the same, and it starts with learning to cherish what's really important...love. I know it sounds sappy, but I'm not just talking about love for those people most special in your life, but a love for yourself, and the passions that have you getting out of bed each morning with a smile on your face. It's about the love for your life, even if it's not quite where you want it yet.
As always, I wish everyone an incredible day ahead, and time to enjoy the stillness. Nothing beats one of those eleven-second therapeutic hugs while surrounded by the peace of stillness. And to our friend Karen, who started this thing today...thanks, buddy! Sure do love ya and glad to see the second round of knee surgery has you on the mend.
PS The images I grabbed for today's post were all taken at Karen's, where the beauty of stillness abounds. She's got this funky little garden surrounded by roses and at either end are two chopped up old cars. It makes absolutely no sense, but at the same time, it's brilliant. I was traveling with a LUMIX G9, and Karen grabbed a shot of us in the garden.
I started writing Sunday Morning Reflections as a way to help me keep my sanity by taking a break from the business and marketing of photography. Thanks to your feedback and encouragement, I think I've only missed 1-2 Sunday's since I kicked off the series so many years ago. And while my life has changed over the years, the passion for writing on a quiet Sunday morning just keeps getting better.
I guess today's post could be as appropriate for a Throwback Thursday as it is wishing all you Dads out there a Happy Father's Day today.
The back story is short and sweet - for my fiftieth birthday, my folks took us for a long weekend to a great little hotel/inn on the Chesapeake Bay. We had a really nice dinner one night at the Inn. Although these days, putting a suit on to go out to dinner is so rare. And, check out the width of those ties!
However, sitting out on the patio behind the hotel, in a suit after a great dinner, and having a cigar with my Dad was a perfect memory-maker. Dad and I talked about our lives, careers, business, and it made the evening perfect.
Well, it's Father's Day and while my Dad isn't around that doesn't change the profound impact he had and continues to have on my life or the love I feel for him every day. And, thanks to this industry all of us are a part of, I've got plenty of photographs to spark the memories and send me on a trip down Memory Lane whenever I want.
So Dads - I wish you a day filled with peace, lots of smiles, and the presence of people around you who you love the most. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs I always write about, and in the process, think about how much meaning your kids have given your life.
Happy Father's Day!
It's only a typical Sunday morning in that I had no idea what I wanted to write about. I started scrolling through my Facebook home page. About ten minutes into checking out what people had shared I struck gold finding Jeff Schewe's post about the Epson produced video below featuring Paul, and John Paul Caponigro called "Two Generations."
I'm a big fan of both artists but have only met JP over the years. JP is no stranger here at SCU, from his episode of "Why?" to links to his workshops and even his 2011 TEDx presentation. He's an accomplished artist. Both JP and Paul need to be on your radar.
However, for me, the power of the video wasn't just about their passion as artists, but the bond and respect between father and son. The title "Two Generations" is so appropriate - not only as father and son but as silver-based and digital technologies. They've both made it a goal to never compromise on the quality of their images, their relationship, or their love for the craft.
Just trust me and take the time to watch and listen to the video!
I suppose the video and their relationship is hitting me a little harder this time of year because Father's Day is next weekend, and I find myself thinking about my Dad.
My Dad was a businessman. As a kid, he had a wholesale candy and tobacco business. His company sold everything from ribbon candy for fundraisers to schools and non-profits to the candy counter at local stores and vending machines in northeast Ohio. He had a warehouse full of candy, which I had access to and is probably the reason I never got into candy that much, because I had all I ever wanted.
I've always regretted that Dad and I didn't share the same focus on a career path, like Paul and JP. He left the candy and tobacco business when I was in my teens, and went into commercial and industrial real estate until he semi-retired in his early 70's. Seeing JP, together with his Dad in the video, sparked memories for so many moments, my Dad and I enjoyed.
While we didn't share the same career field we shared the same passion for life. Even in our focus together on my Mom's Alzheimer's, we found time to create a few memories and even a photo-op or two. A few years back the Senior Friendship Centers used a photograph my good buddy Bob Coates helped us with. They ran us in a full-page ad in the local paper and magazines. And, that brings me full circle to my point this morning:
The video Paul and JP did together, with Epson's help, is a gift to all of us. But, there's a much bigger point than being about photography and printing. It's about an incredible bond between father and son. It brought so many great memories of my own to the surface - like the richness of heavy cream rising to the top.
My Dad passed away almost four years ago at 93, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss him. But thanks to photography and printing, I've got so many memories I can hold in my hands. We can't stop time or turn back the clock, but each photograph and video gives us the ability to time travel, and that's the magic of this industry.
Wishing everybody an incredible day ahead and time to appreciate your parents, whether they're still by your side or not. Take the time to look in your rearview mirror and cherish those moments that helped make you who you are. Sadly, I have no relationship with my own kids today, but that doesn't change the smiles and memories of the past before life got unnecessarily complicated.
As always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs, especially with your folks. We can't stop time, and they won't be around forever - don't miss the opportunity that's there for you right now.
Happy Sunday, everybody!
"If you look at what you have in life, you'll always have more.
If you look at what you don't have in life, you'll never have enough."
If you're new to following this blog, then be warned, I go way off-track from marketing, business, and technique on Sunday mornings. I never know what I'm going to write about until I sit down at the computer.
Well, it's a typical Sunday morning. I'm up early and the house in incredibly quiet, allowing me to do an inventory of my thoughts and see where it all goes. A relatively new friend, Kevin Kuster is responsible for this morning's motivation. He shared the image and comments below on Facebook.
Perspective is everything in life. We finally heard from United that our bags are in Uganda but, they will now not get to us for another two days.
Last night we changed into borrowed clothes, rationed some toiletries and scrounged items from the rest of our Watts of Love and U4Uganda team members.
This morning as I rose to meet the sun, I saw several people pumping water from this community well. The water tanks they had to carry home were back breaking heavy. Most carried several of these tanks on rudimentary bikes. Some in each weathered and calloused hands. A few carried them on their head. Many traveled for miles and miles.
Me, I was immediately aware that when I walked back to the mission center I would twist a knob and magically, cold water for a shower would come out. I would then twist a plastic cap off a bottled water and pour purified drinking water out to brush my teeth. Finally, I would hear clean boiling water in a kettle for my morning coffee.
I have on borrowed clothes. My bags are lost. Some of my camera equipment was confiscated and I am very jet lagged. Regardless, I am keenly aware of how grateful I am sitting at “my spot” in Uganda watching the sun paint the Alenga sky.
Proper perspective brings gratitude. Gratitude births joy. Joy lights the world. #wolUganda2019 #u4u #wol
And there it is - the whole point of today's post - the importance of keeping things in perspective.
It's almost twelve years since Sheila came into my life, nothing romantic, just a great friendship. We spent the day together at a high school reunion, hanging out in our home town. We went to old neighborhoods, past places we each used to hang out, and even got into the high school with a group of old friends. During our travels around town, we talked about everything in our lives since high school, taking turns in ten-year increments. It was Sheila's turn to start when we got to '97 - '07.
In five years she lost two brothers in a car accident; one in a road rage incident thirty days later, her father died, and a year or so later she buried her mother! Then it was my turn, and my moment of sharing was going to be about being unhappy in my marriage and having an Internet business I was involved with (PhotoAlley.com) go under. I was merely quiet - I had nothing worthy to talk about. It was a pivotal moment for me and brought things into perspective with an "ah-ha" philosophy that's never left me, and is a part of the way I look at life today.
A few weeks ago, I "met" Kevin for the first time through Facebook, followed by a phone call and a visit to his website. I knew nothing about him or Watts of Love. I shared one of his images in a spotlight post, and we've talked about ClickCon, where we're both teaching in August and will finally be able to have a beer together and grow the friendship in real time.
His post a couple of days ago and his perspective on life along with what's important, has had a profound impact on me this morning because, like so many of you, I lose perspective so often. Molehills become mountains as I chase life's weeds instead of kicking back and appreciating what I have. Instead of being grateful for everything and everyone in my life and recognizing how blessed I am, I focus on things that don't matter. It's the equivalent of over-using the sharpening tool on an image!
I've got my health, a partner who I love and who loves me and a career/industry I love dearly. And on those days when things don't go as planned, there's nothing that compares to stuff so many people in the rest of the world are dealing with.
Wishing everybody a day where you can appreciate the joy in your life and not focus on the things you don't have. Make it a day to keep things in perspective and enjoy everything and everyone who makes you smile, including those people most special in your life. You know how to hold focus on your camera - so do the same thing on your life - hold focus on the things that matter!
As always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs and savor every minute that flies by, because they never come around again.
And to Kevin...thanks buddy...you really added to making the rest of today perfect, no matter what happens.
It's Sunday morning, and as always I'm off topic from business and marketing, but certainly not far away from a concept we all can identify with - it's the mystique behind a sunset. It happens every day - the sun comes up, and the sun goes down, yet we always notice the change in colors, that sweet light photographers like to chase and that split second when day transitions into night.
We hit the drum circle at Nokomis Beach last night, and in all honesty, there wasn't anything astounding about the sunset - no clouds in the sky or vibrant mix of colors, but that changed nothing in the beauty of the moment. Offshore, a few hundred yards out three boats lined up to watch the sun drop out of site. As a good buddy of mine has said regarding scuba trips and night dives, "It's amazing how crowded the ocean becomes at night!"
"It's almost impossible to watch a sunset and not dream."
Well, along with the three boats above a few hundred people lined the beach to watch the sun drop, take a last minute dip in the ocean and appreciate the beauty of the moment as if it was the Fountain of Youth that Ponce de León was searching for in 1513 in what's now Florida! And then it hit me...
As trite as this might sound, it really is the Fountain of Youth. Sure the ocean adds the water to the "fountain," but it's our ability to still be in awe of a sunset, no matter where we are or how old we are that creates that youthful sense of energy.
As I watched the sun drop, I was feeling recharged and looking forward to whatever was coming next. I found myself appreciating life just a little more, and there was a little extra spring in my step as I walked away from the beach. No different than recharging our phones these days, the sunset and standing with all those people on the beach had given me a quick charge to finish off the day.
And then the sun was simply gone, but not the feeling of euphoria and appreciating another day, or for that matter being grateful for my life, Sheila, good friends or the eager anticipation to do it all over again the next day!
Wishing all of you an incredible day ahead, and if you're in the US, an outstanding holiday weekend. And wherever you are, I hope you can take the time to watch the sun go down and appreciate the beauty of the way each day ends with the potential and hope that tomorrow is always better. Take the time for those eleven-second hugs with the people who help make your sunsets and sunrises extra special.
I'm having a blast with the new LUMIX G9 and the 14-140mm lens. The shot of the three boats was enlarged 200%. I had the camera in IA mode: shot at f5.6 @ 1/320 ISO1250 at full extension, 140mm.
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.