Night Photography & Workshops

Up at 5:30am, feeling awake…not sure why. Went to bed at 1am. I did drink my body weight in coffee yesterday morning, maybe that had something to do with it?

Will be going out tomorrow night to do some city-night photography. I love the light and the extreme dark of the winter sky in Pittsburgh, an odd juxtaposition that only happens in the cold. Not a fan of freezing, but a fan of the results and the experience of shooting. The cold weather brings stillness to the city streets, few choose to battle the cold.

For this outing I will be changing myself to shoot night photography in a different way. Typically I perch myself atop one of the city overlooks and shoot long exposures, f/22 ISO 100 & 30seconds is my sweet spot for night compositions. Tomorrow I will be going hand-held shooting wide open with a fast ISO for the conditions. Not sure what will happen, if anything, but I will be leaving the tripod at home (that in itself will be change enough for me).

I will be teaching my last workshop of the year tonight. Next series of workshops will not start until late January. The HOW TO EVERYTHING workshop is back for only one date this year. You can book (HERE) if interested.

Looking for some good novels to read, any recommendations are welcomed.


Life, Updates & Random Stuff

New Photography Workshop Book HERE

Weather is cold, brisk winds; snow flurries fill the nighttime skies. I haven’t had to shovel the driveway yet. Will see what the morning brings me.

Finished two book by Douglas Rushkoff this week, “Life Inc.” & “Program or be Programmed”. These two books are a good ending to a year of reading about digital culture & digital commerce. The best book by far was “You Are Not a Gadget” by Jaron Lanier (I read it twice. It was that good). If you work or create in the digital realm, I highly recommend Lanier's book.

This time of year it is appropriate to write about reflections of the past year or resolutions of the year to come, but I just do not feel like sharing it at this time. Been journaling about what I have learned and experience this year. This year has been about flux, growth, new directions and a return to basics.

What I would like to share is that meditation and journaling are the two best tools that I know of to help spur creativity.

I will be modifying my copyright next year. Will be sticking with Creative Commons, just tightening the usage/flexibility of the licensing of my work.

Until then if you like the photo above feel to download it (HERE).



Current Reading: Life Inc. By Douglas Rushkoff
Current Music: Bright Size Life by Pat Metheny
Smells: Courvoisier
Sounds: Heater
Temperature: 19 degrees
Thoughts: Picture quality or quality of picture????


Common Photo-Biz Mistakes

***** Special Note: This will most likely be one of my last "how-to" posts on the photo biz topic. For awhile I felt myself moving in the guru direction which I do not feel that I am a good fit for. I hope you find this article helpful, it has helped me along my journey. ******

The artist’s job is to create, grow, earn and keep their audience (a.k.a. the client.) This is why so many photography businesses fail within their first 2 – 5 years of being open. No audience.

Common nonsense mistakes that photographers make:

1. SEO is marketing.
2. Websites and blogs are enough.
3. Traditional media (mass or targeted) work in a digital world.

SEO, websites and blogs are the minimum tools that you need to manage your digital-find-ability. SEO, websites and blogs are mandatory and important, but they are not marketing.

Five years ago when the transition from brick and mortar studios to online studios was happening SEO, websites and blogs were the best transitional tools a person could possibly use.

Today SEO, websites and blogs are only as effective as a listing in the yellow pages, a marquee storefront sign and the unlocking of your front door for business.

It’s mandatory, it's important, but it is not marketing...it is only letting Google know that you are open for business.

What works in digital commerce/culture?
1. Photography communicates better than anything else…share it.
2. You are either transparent or obscure in today’s photography market.
3. You must sculpt a photo-biz to suit your own personal intentions and life. (This is what "authentic" is)
4. Attention-grabbing media works. Go out and earn your audience, daily.
5. If you believe in your photographs then get them in the hands (or screens) of your audience.

I ended a blog post last week with a quote by Douglas Rushkoff. It feels like a perfect ending to this post.

“As many small business owners soon learned, going online often costs them their last real competitive advantage against conglomerates; the human relationship and connections they enjoyed in the real world.”


Rant on Social Media

Social media has become way too corporate and commercialized for me to employ as a trustworthy tool.

Is social media transparent or media-hyped for big biz? Is there any part of “social” left or is it all just “media”?

I cannot watch a commercial or buy a product without being asked to follow them (insert company name here) to become a follower (insert cult reference here). I do not want to follow a product or company. I want to learn something new, daily, from a person.

I am Twittered out, Facebooked over. The oddest (most enjoyable) hypocritical thing is that this rant will automatically be fed by RSS to Facebook and somebody will most likely share this link on Twitter.

Disclaimer of the hypocritical writer alert:

I like Facebook & Twitter… I used and will use them for my photography biz and personal connection. (Friend me, please?...we could get coffee together)

Let me end this rant with a quote by Douglas Rushkoff.

“As many small business owners soon learned, going online often costs them their last real competitive advantage against conglomerates; the human relationship and connections they enjoyed in the real world.”

Going out for a cup of coffee….



Washington D.C.

Spent some time in Washington D.C. over the Thanksgiving weekend. Traveling during a holiday weekend was easier than I expected.

Went down D.C. to do some night photography of the city. The art portfolio of our website has not been updated in awhile. In the last year I have been traveling much more than previous years but I have not taken photos of the cities that I have been in. In this upcoming year a stronger focus on creating photos for art portfolio is a goal.

While in D.C. we ate at an Ethiopian restaurant. It was my first time enjoying the cuisine. We ate a plate of sautéed vegetables served on a sheet of bread named “Injera”. Injera is made from the teff flour and it is a crepe thin bread that you use to scoop up the food. No utensils are used for the meal, only your hands and Injera bread.

Good cuisine, new experience and bad wine. We selected a bottle of wine that the grapes came from Ethiopia and bottled in California, not good, at all.

The photography did not turn out as I hoped. The photos will not make it to the website but I have shared a previous photos (HERE) on the blog and the photo above I like but it's not art portfolio worthy.

The weather was windy, extremely. My tripod, which is heavy, was shaking in the wind. It was the first time my tripod could not stand up to the elements.

Photo of the Week ~ Light Up Night 2010


Why Be Needy?

I read the book “Etiquette of Freedom” and watched the companioned movie “The Practice of the Wild”. The topic was of Gary Snyder's works and life.

Snyder has been a strong influence on my view about understanding the space that you live in. Be it the soil under your feet, the street you live on or the woods that you hike through, understanding your surroundings and your impact on the environment is important.

This current work is a conversation between Snyder and Jim Harrison (an American author known for his poetry, fiction and essays). The conversation ranges from landscapes, Zen, poetry, human studies and reincarnation.

Snyder calls reincarnation a “charming metaphor”. I like his choice of words in describing the un-describable. For me I think of reincarnation as a romantic notion, getting to be all things at some point in our journey.

My favorite quote from the book is:

“So, why be needy? Why be looking for new experiences? Instead, let’s settle in and see what we can really think about now….we have already been every possible form already. So why be needy.” - Snyder

What I take away from the passage is – stop seeking and start noticing what is happening all around you. Do not search out new experiences, but take the time to notice all the things that are already arising within and all around you. That means that we can start living moments to their fullest.

That’s what enlightenment just might be...



Current Reading: The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks
Current Music: Everybody Loves Happy a Ending by Tears for Fears
Mood: Under the weather, not feeling well mood..
Smells: Coffee
Sounds: Quite house
Temperature: Light snow, 30 degrees
Thoughts: Life is random chaos with simplistic moments of perfection arising every moment.


Current Reading: Life Inc. By Douglas Rushkoff
Current Music: Bright Size Life by Pat Metheny
Smells: Courvoisier
Sounds: Heater
Temperature: 19 degrees
Thoughts: Picture quality or quality of picture????