Skills are cheap. Passion is priceless.
It's Sunday morning, and as usual, I'm a long way from the business and marketing of photography. But, that's what Reflections has always been meant to be. However, this morning is going to be a very short post, and one that doesn't require a lot of text.
Many years ago, I wrote a blog post about passion for the craft. I wrote,
"You can't create images that pull at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it!"
Pretty simple and straightforward right? Well, losing my good buddy Terry Deglau last weekend got me thinking about how much he loved the craft, but it was more than that. Terry's signature was the way he loved his friends, the industry, helping other photographers, and life in general.
Over the last few years, many of you have "met" some of the artists I respect most in this industry in features like "Why?" and various podcasts/posts. They all share one common denominator - their passion for everything they do! It's the energy and creativity that comes out of their love for imaging that helps ignite and keep elevating the love we all share.
If you love your work, you'll be out there every day trying to do it the best you possibly can,
and pretty soon everybody around will catch the passion from you, like a fever!
And that brings me full circle to my point. It's obvious I love this industry. However, so much of what I love most isn't directly about photography. It's about the dedication of so many artists I've met who open their hearts every day and demonstrate their passion for life!
Wishing everybody a fantastic Sunday, and a day when your passion for family, friends, and capturing memories is unmeasurable! Always go for those eleven-second hugs with the people most important to you, and make it one of those days that sets the standard for smiling a lot!
It's Sunday morning, and as I write today's Reflections, it may well be one of the hardest I've ever written. At the same time, it's one of the most important to share.
Yesterday afternoon I got an email about one of the very best friends I've had in my life, Terry Deglau:
This is Sydney, Terry's daughter, writing you today with sad news. We wanted to be in touch with all of you as soon as possible, and since dad so loved his blog, we figured this was the best way to get the word out. This morning, Sat., September 14, 2019, our Dad passed away...
I immediately teared up, and for the rest of the evening, the tears would come and go, until my head hit the pillow. I fell asleep thinking about my good buddy and our thirty-year friendship together. It was more than just "thinking" about our friendship. As I closed my eyes, I was looking at a theater marquis with bold letters, "TONIGHT: Skip and Terry's Awesome Adventure." I walked into the theater and grabbed a seat.
Most of you didn't know Terry. He and I met around 1989, and he was instrumental in putting Kodak on the map with professional photographers. That might seem strange since back then Kodak was one of the top five most recognized brands in the world, but not in everyone's heart. Terry was hired to be the relations manager with the working public. His target? Professional photographers in the portrait/social categories.
So, if you were a wedding, school, portrait, or pet photographer if you didn't know Terry personally, you certainly knew who he was. But you knew him because he was Terry Deglau the photographer, not because of his role in Kodak. He was a photographer, educator, writer, and friend to so many of us in the industry. He was perhaps the kindest most giving man I've ever met, and his passion for photography was unmatched.
I was president of Hasselblad at the time we met. After writing to Kodak and calling several times without a response, we chose to do a marketing promotion with Agfa. Management at Kodak was upset and sent Terry to meet with me to get the company relationship back on track. It was around 1989/90 at WPPI where we first met. There was an exhibitor lounge on the second floor overlooking the trade show, and that's where our friendship kicked off - and it only grew from there.
Within a few months, it was as if we'd known each other our entire lives. Our friendship was one adventure after another. We drove Ansel Adams' 1977 Cadillac and photographed Yosemite for three days. We started "Speakers Corner" between the Kodak and Hasselblad booths at trade shows. We were together on the annual snowmobile trip to Yellowstone each winter for ten years; then a father-son trip to Yosemite with my son Adam and his son Jim; and countless lunches, dinners, and projects together, year after year.
Always laughing about it, Terry referred to me as his evil brother, talking him into one adventure after another. The two of us complimented each other. We used to laugh about being like an old married couple. We knew each other that well.
Somewhere along the way, Tony Corbell, Terry, Don Blair and I became the Four Musketeers. We worked together on different projects; always caught up to each other for at least one meal at every convention and simply watched each other's backs. Our friendship existed in real time, since there was no Internet, Facetime, or Skype to keep in touch.
Terry's health wasn't always the best, and around 2005 he'd retired and was living in Florida in the Villages. After a stroke he wasn't allowed to drive, so we came up with a solution. I don't remember if it was Roy Madearis' idea or mine, but together with a long list of friends, we raised enough funds and surprised Terry with a 1957 Chevy replica golf cart. One by one, we all showed up at his house for the day of delivery.
As usual, Terry was clueless. My Dad and I showed up first, and told Terry we had to be in Orlando. Ralph Romaguera, who lived in New Orleans said he was just in the neighborhood and thought he'd stop by. The doorbell never stopped ringing.
Yesterday the industry lost one of its biggest fans, and many of us lost a best friend. I didn't have exclusivity on Terry's friendship, but couldn't be more proud to have been part of the circle of people who loved and respected him. In Don Blair's Guide to Lighting and Posting Body Parts, which was produced with Terry and Tony's help, I wrote:
"So the secret to creating great images really isn't a mystery at all. It just takes a photographer like Terry who loves what he does, a few good friends and an unmatched love for the craft!"
And to my buddy, Terry, you'll be missed more than you could possibly know. There are thousands of photographers whose lives you touched, and you'll always have a piece of my heart. Love ya man - until we meet on the next great adventure...
Note: A memorial service is planned for 11am on Saturday, Oct 19th, 2019 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Latrobe, PA. Hope many of you can be there.
It's Sunday morning, and as always I'm stepping away from the business and marketing of photography. While I'm writing this today, the idea came to me a few weeks ago when I was looking at the image above. It was captured with a LUMIX G9 while we were visiting friends in Ohio. I was amazed at the sharpness, but there was something else I appreciated.
The marigold in the front was at its peak, alive, beautiful and in full bloom. Just outside the depth of field in the back, an older flower was dying and fell apart a few days later. That got me thinking about the expression, as one door closes another opens.
I've had plenty of disappointments in my life, but when I look back, each one led me to something different and often better. Here are a few examples:
Think about your own life and experiences. How many times have you felt a knot in your stomach over a change you weren't expecting? (It's the same feeling you got with that first dent you put in your father's car as a kid!)
Now, look back at what followed - not always right away, but sooner or later as one door closed, another new one opened. I'm also a firm believer in the expression; everything always works out for the better. Over and again in my life, it's been proven true.
So, the next time you're feeling down over a closing door, have confidence, and be looking for a new one to open. Most important of all, remember, "It's just a bad day, not a bad life!"
Wishing everybody an outstanding Sunday and time with friends and families who most of the time represent doors that never close! Go for those eleven-second hugs I always talk about and remember to limit the time you spend looking at your life in your rearview mirror - it's what's in front of you that counts!
As with everything I write on Sunday mornings, I'm off-track from the business and marketing of photography, but it's hardly a typical Sunday. It's been a bizarre week here in south Florida because of the hurricane. There were lines at the gas stations, shelves in a couple of markets were bare, and there was a quiet rolling fear of the unknown. My heart goes out to everyone in Dorian's new path, but you could hear a city-wide sigh of relief when the hurricane tracking model changed yesterday.
In the aftermath of the good news, we had a chance to relax a little. Sheila and I love watching college football and the first major upset of the season came with Georgia State beating Tennessee. Georgia State was without question the underdog. After the win, one of the sports commentators asked the coach if it was true he told his players the following:
"If you don't believe, don't show up!"
It was such a great line that I wrote it down, so I could use it in this morning's post. Think about the power of that statement and how it applies to virtually everything we do. Examine the goals you have an artist to capture beautiful images, and as a business owner to exceed client expectations, and make yourself habit-forming.
I meet so many photographers at conferences and online who, when business is slow to grow, they start to question their decision to be an artist. Great photographers don't happen overnight. Look at any photographers you admire, and you'll find they've never stopped learning or growing.
Take it one step further - they've weathered so many different storms in their lives. But through every challenge, they've never stopped believing in themselves or their dreams. They've learned to listen to their hearts.
And there it is - my point this morning - you can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it! You know how to focus on your subjects, but don't back off from focusing on your dreams.
It's short and to the point this morning - photography and the respect and support your clients deserve requires you to believe in your skillset. If your skillset isn't there yet, then it's pretty simple - be patient and keep working on it. This is one business where you can't fake it 'till you make it.
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday and one filled with family, friends, and time to appreciate everything you have in your life. And as always, it's a time for those eleven-second hugs with those people who believe most in you!
It's Sunday morning and if you've followed me for even the shortest amount of time you know "Reflections" is all about going off-track from business, marketing and technique. I love that time you've allowed me to take to share what's bouncing around in my head, no matter what the topic.
This morning I'm in one of those how-did-I-get-here moments. Every day we're given choices of doors to walk through. Each door comes in the form of emails, phone calls, text messages, forum threads on Facebook with other photographers and conferences/workshops we can attend.
If I look back on my life, it's always been without very much direction. I've never known what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I was a kid, if you asked me, I thought it was clever to say "Peter Pan" and never grow up. We all have to grow up - but that doesn't mean we can't have fun in the process. My vote is walk through every door you can find time to open, and you'll be amazed at where each new path takes you!
Here's are some examples:
Here's my point - we all have a choice to make every day - be involved or be a couch potato, or I suppose more accurately put - an office/studio potato. You can't grow as an artist or for that matter a member of the human race if you don't get out of the house!
You need to attend every event you possibly can. Build your network of associates and friends. You never know when that person you're talking to on the elevator needs a little help or is going to help you. You need to be at every conference you possibly can attend: PPE in New York, IUSA in Nashville, SYNC in Florida, WPPI in Las Vegas, PhotoShop World in Orlando and Las Vegas, ShutterFest in St. Louis and ClickCon in Chicago. (Note: 2020 dates are not announced yet for all of these shows.) Then there are state and regional shows all year long.
And, for those of you who think you can't afford to go to so many shows - you can't afford NOT to! With each conference you attend you're going to experience a growth spurt and you never know what door might open next.
If over the next twelve months, you met new people at each conference and took at least one class outside your comfort zone - think about how much you'd raise the bar on your skillset. As your skillset and network grow - your life changes. It becomes richer and opportunities you never thought about become a part of your life.
So, how did I get here? It's a long list of events and great people. I wake up smiling every morning, never knowing what the day ahead is going to bring. In that group of great people are all of you, my readership. As I've written dozens of times in the past - the best thing about this industry is the friendships. The second best thing is where those friendships have the potential to take us.
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday. I hope the day is one of peace, love, and friendships. Go for those eleven-second hugs and take a minute to think about the people most important to you - how did they come into your life?
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're hanging out on the other side of the planet!
I'm back in Florida, and it's a typical Sunday morning. I'm up early and Sheila's still asleep, and I'm in a strange mood trying to find the words to express a particular kind of sadness. Remember, "Sunday Morning Reflections" are always off the topic of photography, and this morning I'm a long way away from marketing and business.
Friday night the phone rang and a good buddy was calling me to tell me his wife had passed away that morning. I started to tear up, but did my best to try and console him. I hung up the phone and cried, not just for the loss of a great lady, but for the pain he's going through and I'm too far away to do very much.
I hate when people post things that are personal, but this is "Reflections." So, I'm going into forbidden territory, but I'll keep it brief.
I met Bob Thompson when I joined Hasselblad in 1987. Our friendship has been one adventure after another, and his wife Cindy supported all of it. We used to laugh every time we did a scuba trip, because Cindy wouldn't let him go until he cleaned his office! She wasn't big on traveling but the two photographs I found of them were on a trip to Sweden in 1998.
The Hasselblad sales force won a trip to Sweden, with spouses, and it was a kick to have Cindy and all the spouses with us. Years later we're still laughing about some of the things that happened on that trip, but that's not my point so much this morning.
Our friendships are the mortar that keeps the bricks of our lives together. From scuba-diving to snowmobiling to working trade shows, meetings, and sharing a love for imaging, Bob and I have been through a lot of great times together. We've spent hours talking about our lives outside the industry and shared mutual losses of good friends and associates, but losing Cindy was never something I anticipated and I'm simply at a loss.
I know she's going to be watching over him along with a circle of good friends. A few years ago, while they were still living in Denver, Sheila and I got out to dinner with them. It was non-stop laughs for the evening and those memories are something we'll always cherish.
So, for my good buddy this morning, I have to use a quote from the Internet:
"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. "
There's no better caption for the photographs in this post today, than Jodi Picoult's quote I've used so often:
"This what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect."
Wishing everybody a day filled with the people most important in your life and time to appreciate them. Those eleven-second hugs are always important, but this morning when Sheila wakes up I'm going bump them up to longer. Life is just too short!
Happy Sunday everybody.
It's anything but a typical Sunday morning, as I get ready to head to Chicago for the ClickCon conference. I've got four different programs I'm doing, and my head is filled with PowerPoint slides! And while usually, I'm entirely off the topics of business and marketing in photography, this morning not so much.
I've written about the anticipation before a conference easily a hundred times since my first blog post in 2009. Sheila calls it my "show mode." She recognizes the lights are on, but nobody's home look on my face that comes and goes for the last week before I hit the road. But it's the energy of anticipation that's one of the sweetest reasons I love this industry - catching up to old friends and making new ones!
Technically we refer to it as building your network, but it's so much more. I've always loved conferences and workshops. In my Hasselblad days, I remember my buddy Tony Corbell saying once, "Skip's wound a little tight!" LOL - I still laugh at things Jim Morton used to do to try and keep me involved, but at the same time out of his hair when it came to getting the Hasselblad booth set up.
Here's the point - attending every conference, convention, and workshop you can keeps you connected. To say it's essential to build your network suggests it's a motivation to build a stronger business presence. The truth is, it's important to build your heart! As I've written in the past, you can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it. Well, building relationships with other people who share one of your passions reinforces the importance of the journey we're all on.
Yeah, I know, it sounds pretty lofty, but we're all traveling on a similar journey. It's a sense of community, passion for the craft, love for people, and the ability to capture memories. The key to success, in any business, is about building relationships - not only reinforcing the older ones but planting the seeds for new ones.
I don't make a living as a photographer - my first love is on the marketing and business side, but I'll match my passion for having a camera in my hands with anybody. Knowing that over the next few days I'm going to spend time with a couple of thousand people with the same love for imaging creates an amazing boost of energy. It's the reason for this stupid "What-me-worry?" Alfred E. Neuman look on my face this morning.
So, if you're in the Chicago area, come join the craziness this week. And if you're not heading that way - look at your calendar and check out the dates for future conventions and workshops. Go to as many as you possibly can and as your circle of friends grows, and you establish more relationships in this industry you'll recognize what I'm feeling this morning - nothing beats the anticipation of being with friends.
Wishing everybody a terrific day ahead. As always go for those eleven-second hugs with people you love and appreciate the path you've chosen for a career. If you're doing something in photography, there's no industry like it!
It's a typical Sunday morning. I'm up early as always; the house is quiet, and Sheila's still asleep. As usual, I'm off track, but with a head overloaded on things I need to do this week before heading to ClickCon. Helping to keep my sanity is an outrageous appreciation for the role all of you play in my life; the anticipation of meeting many of you at the conference; and quite simply an overall appreciation for my life.
In the process of thinking about all of these things, there's a topic that seems to be screaming for me to write about. I'm curious about some of the things you do to escape from the stress of business.
Here's a new one on my list: Sheila and I planted a vegetable garden. It might not seem like a big deal, but after years of watching her play in the dirt, I've caught the bug.
We planted zucchini, pickles, peppers, a few tomato plants, and basil. I've learned the hard way about fighting the bugs and lost the zucchini early on, discovered bugs on the tomato plants last night, but most of the other plants are doing well. And the basil is definitely king of the jungle!
The other night we decided to make a pesto sauce from scratch using our own basil. With Sheila's Celiac, we finally found a great gluten-free cheese pizza that's incredible when cooked on the grill. We came up with our own recipe using the premade three-cheese pizza as the base. We added our pesto sauce, prosciutto, sliced fresh tomatoes, and a light layer of shredded mozzarella and provolone. It was perfect and is now in the Skip & Sheila - OMG Hall of Fame.
And that brings me right to my point - As I've gotten older, it's become harder to put the business on the back burner. It's hard not to check email one last time before bed; take time off, and especially to relax. There's always something popping into my head reminding me of an upcoming deadline or a project I'm hoping to do. But there's something soothing in working in the garden, trimming back a plant or even battling it out with bugs, squirrels, and rabbits.
That pizza the other night and the fact that we enjoyed it so much was my at-home version of scoring a 100 in print competition. The satisfaction at creating a great pizza, combined with time together in two of our hobbies, gardening, and cooking, was simply fun. It helped to clear my head and set the stage for so many different things I needed to work on the rest of the week.
So, I'm wishing all of you a terrific day filled with things that help take your mind off business. I'm hoping you can make it a stress-free day with people important to you; those eleven-second therapeutic hugs I write about every Sunday and time to appreciate everything in your life outside the business.
Oh, and as a joke two years ago I made the sign below for the side of the house where all of Sheila's gardening stuff is. I guess it's time to see if she'll let me add my name to the "company!" LOL
Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
It's Sunday morning, and I couldn't be more off-base from the marketing and business of photography. In fact, for a few minutes, I thought about breaking my Sunday habit and not posting - that's when I realized that was the topic all in itself.
Ever sit and ask yourself, "Why?" Ironically, I have a series of the same name. It features 121 artists and their favorite images over the years, but I'm not talking about photography, but various aspects of my life. I guess it started with one of the Pinterest emails that was loaded with poems about losing a pet...well that sent me into a tailspin, missing Molly the Wonder Dog.
Then, when I checked into Facebook, there was a post from my pal Melissa Albert about missing a friend she'd lost who was like family. Well, that got me thinking about Don Blair, Dean Collins and Bengt Forssbaeck (VP at Hasselblad in Sweden.) One step further and my folks jumped in, especially my Dad. I found myself telling him about some of the bizarre politics in this industry as I continue to fine-tune my presentations for the upcoming ClickCon show in Chicago. He was a one-man band in commercial real estate and used to be fascinated by the stories I shared about so many of the characters in our industry.
Why were all these personalities on my mind? Why do I do what I do? Why is life at times so bittersweet? Why do I feel compelled to write every Sunday morning, which has so little to do with my core business?
The answer isn't particularly witty or astute, it borders on cheesy and even trite, but it's who I believe we all are and it's summed up in a line I've used dozens of times...
I am a part of all that I have met.
From Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
My "why" simply gets answered with "because." Everyone who passes through our life regardless of how long they stay becomes a part of us. They become an ingredient to who we are, why we do the things we do, and why time is so special. Looking back over the years, I find myself wishing I'd savored so many friendships just a little longer.
At the same time, it's the legacy all those no longer with us have left us - our ability for them to live on through our memories, the stories we share and the lessons we learned. It's the gleam in my eye when I tell a story about something crazy that Big Daddy and I did once, or describing Molly's never-ending quest to catch tennis balls, or my Dad's smile when eating a ten-dollar plate of onion rings!
And there's my point - learn to savor your time with everyone who shares your journey. We did a great podcast with Jen Rozenbaum last year, and she talked about how she wanted to run her life in reverse so that she could look back with no regrets. I can't do her explanation justice, but it's a podcast worth listening to.
Wishing everybody a terrific day ahead and time to appreciate not only the people you're with but those you miss. That heartache when you think about them is simply the power of the memories you have, and there's no better way to respect the love you have for them than to take a walk down Memory Lane. Always go for those eleven-second hugs with those you love and as always, thanks for being here this morning!
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
"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!
ClickCon was AMAZING!
It's rare that a first year conference has the power that ClickCon brought to the industry last week. Great speakers, a busy trade show and 1300 attendees loaded with a passion to learn and grow. Put the show on your radar so you know the dates for 2020 when they're announced!
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.