Elementary School Memories

Preschool – My first memories are of a teacher who yelled a lot, a very old, wrinkly, mean lady teacher who yelled a lot. I remember a very nice teacher’s aid that would take care of us (God bless her) from that wicked old witch. The trauma-highlight for me was on “bring your toy sailboat to school” day. My toy boat was too big for the plastic tub that the wicked-old -witch deemed for us to play in. She yelled at me “get that boat out of the water”. The nice teacher’s aid lady took me into the cafeteria to let me play with my-too-large for the group sailboat in the cafeteria sink.

Kindergarten – The year of eating paste…most likely. K-year is not much more than a blur. A crowded room, fighting for time at the block table, Legos all around. The constant yelling “Don’t eat the playdough” from some adult in the room.

1st grade – It was the year we invented crayon-football and nap time went away. I sat next to a child who was always getting in trouble. In today’s world he would be deemed hyperactive, at that time he was just bad. It was also the year of lots of snot, some girl whom I cannot remember her name was a faucet of snot.

2nd grade – Another mean teacher, probably the sister to the wicked witch of the west from preschool days. I had a music teacher who’s lesson I would never forget. Good rhythm and timing will get you through. The music teacher, actually a drum instructor, would always refer to us as girls during drum practice. The cafeteria lady was mean, wooden spoon, hair net and all. I think Adam Sandler found inspiration in her.

3rd grade – My teacher’s name was Ms. Wonder and she was not Wonder Woman. This always confused me. Started my first journal, it was a notebook full of jokes. I wrote this with a friend who kept the journal, 25 years later I got to read it. My penmanship has not improved much…or at all.

4th grade – Disinterested in all things, the year was a blur. I am either repressing something or was totally spaced out during my 4th grade year. The only memory I have is being kicked by a girl at the bus stop.

5th grade – My female teacher had big boobs and a pretty face. Unfortunately she had really, really, really bad breath from smoking. To me she was Jaclyn Smith from afar.

6th grade – Played kickball all the time. I think the teacher hated teaching and kept us out on the playground to kill time. The teacher would play center field, always catching our fly balls so nobody would get a home run.

The next six years of education would be focused on music, girls, sports, killing time and oh yeah…the occasional homework assignment…in that order.


R.I.P – Social Networking

I just finished reading the entire FACE BOOK when I got to the end I was so TWITTERed out. I felt like I needed MYSPACE but I wanted to be LINKED-IN to the entire GAIA. When the universe opened up to me it said “this is YOU TUBE not mine."

After falling down I stood back up just to fall deeper into the BLOGSPOT only to be caught in a WORDPRESS of thought… I saw a FLICKR of light reflecting my LIVEJOURNAL back into my original face.

Do you DIGG it, isn’t this DEL.ICIO.US that you just STUMBLE UPON this SQUIDOO

My online self needs to experience my FRIENDSTER of the real world. All I can think to say is YAHOO!!!!!

See you on the sidewalk….and the blog.

Long live GOOGLE!!!!


On God - Deism ???

A comment was recently left on a posting of mine titled “On Being an Artist”. In that essay there is a paragraph where I compare man’s art creations to God’s creations, neither one have power over created work once released to the world.

Commenter wrote, “Your simplified version of 18th century deism displays much inconsistency of thought.” Commenter also wrote “One has to look no further than your own website to see that men obsess over their creations.” For the record I love both of these comments and I responded back to the commenter thanking him for his thought-provoking comments.

What follows is the thought-provoking stuff inspired by the commenter.

It’s true that man (especially me) obsesses over their creations…does God? I don’t know but my heart tells me that s/he does.

After reading the original comment the first thing I did was to look up the word “Deism”.

Deism – (per Wikipedia) God does not intervene with the functions of the natural world.

I am ok with that…is it true? I do not know nor care. Am I a hypocrite? Most likely, I practice meditation and believe in the power of prayer. Buddha spoke of being comfortable with your contradictions. I am.

I no longer wrestle with existential questions or feel guided by a transcendental purpose but I do miss walking in the woods.

Walking in the woods is the only place that I felt guided by my inner voice and felt the presence of God. It was never a radically transforming experience, but it was enough for me to stop seeking answers about God and to start experiencing God’s creations.

For me it does not matter if God only created DNA and then became a spectator of her/his creation leaving evolution to dispose through benevolent acts.

It does not matter to me if God hand-created each and every one of us. Or if s/he only hand picks a chosen few to communicate through.

It does not matter to me if God is a dormant muscle or gene that is held deep inside of us waiting to be developed through spiritual practice and exercises.

God could be: law, grace, art, three persons making up a single body, all of Gaia or the single heartbeat inside your chest…I am ok with that.

Our spiritual history can be flawed and layered with imperfections and still have deep impactful meaning in which to live your life by. I am ok with that.

God is a mystery and I am ok with that. Never fight the oblivious…never - and I am ok with that.

I do miss walking in woods.


Short Story by David Shuler

Just His Luck…you can read it (here)


Current Reading: The Life & Times of Brian Eno
Current Music: All Things Must Past by George Harrison
Smells: Toast
Mood: Not to shabby
Sounds: White noise & humming birds
Temperature: Sunny & 60 degrees
Thoughts: Never fight the oblivious…never!


On Being an Artist

On Being an Artist

Art is here to give people the opportunity to dream.
Art is the dialogue of the imagination.
Art is a service to humanity for creating connections.
Art is purpose.

People refer to me as an artist to which I always say, “Thank you, art is subjective” then I nod politely and say “I appreciate the kind words”.

I think of myself as a craftsman laborer with tools. My tools of choices are a camera, guitar and a pen; no more or no less important than a shovel, screwdriver or a hammer. A tool’s purpose is to create or destroy. My Father is a blue-collar laborer. He is an electrician and he uses tools to create…and destroy a couple of items along the way.

I aspire to create.

Gary Snyder wrote “We are here to entertain the rest of nature”.

Martin Scorsese wrote - "The artist's job is to make people care about your obsessions and see them and experience them as their own".

That’s true to me. It has always boggled me as to why people ask God for intervention. Man is created in the image of God. It would hold true that God has no more control over his creation than man has over his created works. Man and God can create and destroy, nonetheless the creation is left up to its own self for its survival.

Never call yourself a prophet, philosophers or an artist. May those titles be placed upon you long after your death.

They are all titles given to you, not self-imposed labels. If deserved.


Photo of the Week - Ambient Art

Camera: Nikon D200
Exposure: 30
Aperture: f/16.0
Focal Length: 40 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: 0 EV


Commercial Photography

Belief; believe in yourself, and do what you where hired to do.

These were the words that I kept repeating to myself on last week’s commercial shoot.

48 hours to document 100 years of history with a different perspective. No pressure…?

Davis & Elkins College in WV is celebrating their 100th graduation class this year and the college administrator decided that this would be a good time to re-vamp their image.

The first thing the college did was to hire the design firm Direct-Axis located in Pittsburgh. Ok, they’re off to a pretty good start. Direct-Axis is a top notch firm with a stellar staff of creative people. Next, Direct Axis asks me to photograph the campus landscape, architecture and student life.

I enjoy commercial photography and I am lucky enough that I can hand pick the jobs that I wish to take. When deciding which job to take I always go with “is this going to push me creatively & do I like who I will be collaborating with?” This experience gave me both.

With a deadline in place and a window of 48hours to document 100 years of history, two tripods, an arsenal of lenses, off to WV I go.

Wet shoes, soggy backpack and conversations with Dan O’Donnell, owner of Direct-Axis, by my side we did it. Dan and I dialogued about indie music, art talk, biz discussions, gardening, and politics all the while trekking through the campus. Fist day it rained non stop, second day the campus was fogged in. I had about a total of 3 hours of sunlight to work with.

“Pull the best out of what you have”, that is my philosophy of photography. The light is never in the same place twice and this moment will never repeat itself again.

During the shoot I was thinking about the importance of personal side projects and my Flickr account. I use my Flickr account as a dumping ground for my side projects. When I shoot ambient, city night or general stuff I upload the best (or the bulk) of the photos to my Flickr page with minimal to no editing. I license most everything I do on Flickr with Creative Commons. If you like a photograph, take it. No cost.

My Flickr portfolio has developed into a marketing tool and a stock page. In this past year alone people have asked to use my work in a book (coming out this Fall), several business websites and if I’m lucky you’ll see my work within D & E’s portfolio as well. This all keeps fueling commercial work. Not a bad return for giving away side project work.

Standing in the rain and fog thinking about how I got this job. They like my work, not the polished stuff that is on my art gallery page but the side project work-in-progress photography that is uploaded to my dumping ground Flickr page.

What did I learn?
- People love to follow works in progress.
- White balance set on cloudy, color saturation set on more vibrant, ISO 100, and a tripod is a good combination for bad weather photography.
- Belief in what you do.

Yesterday I heard from the design firm and college that everybody loved the work and one photo in particular will be a centerfold photo in a book about D & E.


Workshop – NOW BOOKING

I will be teaching a 2-night workshop called Purposeful Blogging for your Photography Business at the Silver Eye Center for Photography located in the South Side of Pittsburgh PA.

Tuesdays July 14 and 21, 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

"Purposeful Blogging is a marketing tool for photographers who want to grow their business by building an audience through the use of new communication models. Blogging for your business is a demonstration of your skill and representation of who you are. This two-evening workshop with Photographer John Craig will introduce you to techniques that can help you launch your business into the blogosphere.”

This is two nights of must-have information on how to build your audience thru blogging and how to sustain you business.

Reservations required


The Soloist & My Room

I finished reading “The Soloist” today at lunch. It was odd reading a book about the powers of music without actually listening to music. I wish I would have seen the movie first and then read the book to have the soundtrack playing in mind while reading.

The copy of the book I was reading was on loan from my local library. This copy had hand written notes throughout the book. It was interesting to read somebody else’s thoughts about the story. The writer of the notes seemed to have a person living in their life that is also suffering from schizophrenia.

Pages of the book read “homeless, living without a view of a horizon, no greens, no blues just city”. The note writer adds in the margins of that page “schizophrenia leads to introspection – thoughts in my mind. I stand next to a life that is better than mine.” I have no idea what to make of the handwritten notes. The word introspection and life leads me to guess that there is redemption of hope found in the pages of this book.

I have this extra room in my house which has become “my room” (all other rooms are “E’s, but I do get a pillow and I am re-invited every night to share the bed). It’s a room where I workout and store my photo gear. Last night I set up a practice area: music stand, chair and guitar. I keep guitars tossed throughout the house. For the most part anywhere I typically sit there is a guitar close by. Keeping a true practice workout regime for guitar has been calling me for a long time.

The music of Bach is otherworldly to me. Many times when I play Bach I cannot tell you what I am playing (theory, chord structure). At times it feels like fingers on strings and a piece of wood in my hands making sounds that I have no control over or understating of. I have been playing guitar for three decades, in that time I have recorded a couple of cd’s and have played countless shows. Nothing can compete with the moments of fluidly playing Bach.

I live with a quiet inner fear if that I do not keep growing as a musician I will not grow as a photographer. Music helps me to see the world.

“May the concert never stop” - Nathaniel Ayers


Photo of the Week

Camera: Nikon D200
Exposure: 0.005 sec (1/200)
Aperture: f/7.1
Focal Length: 29 mm
ISO Speed: 800
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Flash: No Flash



Current Reading: The Soloist by Steve Lopez
Current Music: All this Time by Sting
Smells: Sauerkraut
Mood: Is lack of sleep a mood?
Sounds: Wind, birds and other people talking…
Temperature: 67 degrees
Thoughts: Success deferred is not failure….


Update on My Shoes

"The human foot is a work of art and a masterpiece of engineering.”
Leonardo Da Vinci

Read – A Year Ago Walking by Ottmar Liebert
Read - Tim Ferriss on Vibram Shoes

Photo of the Week - Ambient Art

Camera: Nikon D200
Exposure: 2
Aperture: f/25.0
Focal Length: 70 mm
ISO Speed: 640
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Flash: No Flash


Dinner for Two

Last night I had dinner with Elizabeth at a little Indian restaurant on South Craig street in Oakland. The fresh smell of garlic nan (bread) practically brought tears of joy to “E”. (p.s. be sure to ask “E” about her cupcake from this weekend's wedding. That is a story no man is fit to tell).

A quiet dinner just for two was much needed and well deserved. Four shoots in two days makes a photographer hungry and sleepy. Here is an insanely useful photography tip that they didn’t teach you in collage – Grandparents are a must…knowing that our little “e” is safe and happy when Mommy & Daddy have to be away from home is a godsend of peace to us.

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I will be in West Virginia photographing commercial work. (Photo updates later in the week)

Updates on our photography career - “E” Intimates Series is doing great beyond expectation. I have my first workshop and commercial project that has been keeping me busy.

Side project work is a must for creative flow. “E” and I agree that side projects are a must-have to do wedding photography well. Seeing the world from multiple perspectives is what photography is all about.

See you all later in the week.


My New Shoes

I have been wearing these shoes for the past seven days, you can read about them (here….)

P.S. – Yes, they are awesome…


Intimates Shoot Series & Updates

Intimates Shoot Series by Elizabeth, check it out (here....)

Have a great weekend: for the E & J team it is 4 shoots in 2 days....

Then next week I am off to WV to photograph a college for there website & marketing materials.