Peaks and Valleys

Peaks and Valleys

Peaks and Valleys

This week has been a crazy week – full of activity and quite exciting, especially for the blog!  The launch of the latest eBook (the Prequel to the DIY Kit – still on sale thru Sunday by the way) really hit like a firestorm.  For that, I’d like to say thanks to those who have waited so patiently for it!  In contrast to that, the previous few months have been something of a test to my resiliency.  Long work hours, lots of travel, and a serious learning curve on not only the front end, but also the back end of multimedia, streaming, servers, systems, publishing points, and much more!  My feeble mind has been made to think in ways I’d not thought in years!  Hopefully I am nearing the top of that learning curve now though and have hit an altitude where I am on cruise control!

This is good news for the blog – I’ve had time to get some really good content in the can, and some exciting stuff is coming down the pike (just a vague teaser today though! )  Then yesterday, a friend reached out to me and said thanks for helping him get through a rough patch.  My own euphoria at how well received the eBook has been was in stark contrast to his own recent experiences, and it gave me a moment of pause.  We all have highs and we all have lows – it kind of reminds me of that little story about Footprints in the Sand – when a person looks back on his life and sees only one set of footprints at his (or her) lowest of lows.  They then ask God why they were alone during those times.  The answer, of course, is that when there is only one set of prints, it’s when God was carrying them…

No matter what your religious beliefs, the same mentality holds true in most venues…whether you are a blogger, a photographer or even just a regular person – you will have highs and lows.  So, rather than bemoan our lows and sing the praises during our highs, it helps to keep things in perspective.  While the highs may not seem as euphoric, the lows also are more tolerable.  Having good friends, family, and loved ones to lean on often helps.  So, if you are in a rut, or feeling low – rest assured, the worm will turn soon!  The best way to turn that corner is to keep reminding yourself of your goals, and if you are in a valley – keeping your eyes on the prize can help you stay focused (no pun intended).

Are you focused?  How do you focus when times are tough?  Tough questions with no easy answers…but more is coming on the blog!  Wanna hear the answer? Got your own?  Tune in on Monday for my own recipes on how to stay focused…

In the meantime, enjoy the weekend and find something to shoot!  Your challenge for the weekend will be to shoot five new photos!  Can you do that?  Can you focus enough to take five photos?  Give it a whirl, and I’ll share more of the insights on Monday!  Happy Shooting!

Defining your craft – and yourself!

Mexican Sunset

Photography as we know it has changed a lot over the past several years.  The advancements of digital are pretty well-known, and have been written about extensively.  In addition to the nature of the medium, several other factors have come together in what photographers are calling “the perfect storm”.  Included in this picture are the decreased cost of entry, increased interest from a wider and ever-increasing portion of the population, photographers are finding themselves in larger company than ever before…to put it quite simply:  there’s more of us!

David Ziser, the quintessential wedding photographer did an excellent write-up in two parts (here and here) as a guest blogger over at Scott Kelby’s blog.  Not only is he an incredible photographer, his writing is among the best in the industry too!  I would highly recommend reading these two posts because even if you aren’t a fan of “The Kelby Kool-Aid”,  (although I must admit, I take a sip of it every now and then…) because these specific writings give insights and directions for all of us moving forward.  While the insights and perspective-changing considerations to take into account (including drive, motivation, work ethic, etc.) are definitely helpful, the more serious question that lies at the root of all of it seems to find a cornerstone in one simple question:  WHY DO YOU TAKE/MAKE PICTURES?

Without getting into the semantics of taking versus making pictures – my point here is that we all pick up the camera for different reasons.  And only in understanding those reasons can you really determine where you want to go and how you want to get there from where ever you are now.  We may pick up our camera to capture a moment in time, with dew glistening off the petals of a flower in the morning light:

Black and White Flower

Does that make us nature photographers?  Absolutely!  But, by the same token, does that define us?  Of course not!  We may also enjoy capturing that beaming bride as she smiles and kisses her husband on their special day!  Or, we may revel in the laughter of children as we capture those moments in time!  By the same token, we may also be pulled on some deep and intangible level by the power of a sunrise or a sunset in some place!  Heck, maybe it’s even the place that moves us.  As David DuChemin says, “…vision is better!”

The Kiss


Mexican Sunset

There are so many scenes and images that surround us every day, but yet so often we do not trip that shutter, because we likely are not tuned in to a particular vision or perspective.  So, the question then becomes:  What is your vision?  Do you see the beauty inside that awkward teenager who only smiles for family?  Or what about the majesty of a skyline timed so perfectly?  The fact is, we can find it everywhere, and while we can blog and twitter, and Facebook until the cows come home about our latest project, or to promote and network across so many sectors of the economy (whether it’s improving or on the downturn), what ultimately matters is what motivates you to shoot in the first place?

Those Eyes!

Denver Skyline

When push comes to shove, the foundation for creating photographs (I believe) is something that comes from inside.  You have to want to be there, capturing that moment in time in order to the vision to really come to life.  Whether it’s a sunset, a smile, a skyline or anything, if you’re not true to your own roots, then twittering about it all becomes less than inspirational.

Of course, I could be completely half-cocked, and off base entirely here.  What do you think is at the root of photography?  Is it for the passion, the fame, or the glory?  Or is it something else altogether?  What drives those like David Ziser, Joe McNally, Zack Arias, David DuChemin and the rest to such degrees of excellence?  Time and again, what makes them and folks like them rise to the top?  Share your thoughts, comments, and feedback below!

What Moves You?

The question of what moves us as photographers is one that everyone eventually questions at some point.  Whether this comes early in your pursuit or later…at some point everyone considers where their real passion for a particular artistic genre exists.  Whether that art form is painting, sculpting, musical, or photographic in nature, the question is one that will always persist.  I’ve asked this question before in an essay simply titled “Why?”, and there have looked to answer the question from an esoteric perspective.  (Feel free to read the essay yourself from the PDF article here.)

However, today it’s more of a motivational question.  What motivates you to shoot – and what are your real reasons for pursuing any of the arts?  For my own photography, the roots lie in scuba diving.  You see about 20 years ago, I became a Certified PADI diver.  I took to it quite easily, and ever since have been enthralled with scuba diving.  So much so that I considered taking the advanced certifications, which required two specializations.  One was a no-brainer, the other was underwater navigation!  You can imagine what the no-brainer was…

Having seen so many wonderful scenes from artists, showing stunning beaches, the underwater marine life, from sharks to whales, dolphins and fish all along coral reefs, the world of scuba diving and beaches have always drawn me.  Part and parcel with that passion has also been one for sunsets and sunrises.  And since we can all appreciate a sunrise or sunset scene from the beaches of the world, I’m sharing today some of my own personal favorites.  Yes, these are retouched to a degree, but I’ve tried to stay true to the scene as I remember it.

While some day I eventually hope I am able to afford the housings to go back underwater with all this gear I’ve accumulated, but for the time being, I’ll have to survive with these above-water scenes.  Enjoy, and if you’ve got your own favorites, feel free to share those here as well through your own links.  Happy shooting!

Mexican Sunset

Mexican Sunrise

SC Sunrise

Road to Folly

Folly Beach