Photo of the Week

This photo ends my Ambient Art series. You can see the full gallery (HERE), to close this series I want to give away this photo.

This photograph is licensed under a creative commons licensing: Please feel free to use and distribute the photography & artwork in accordance with the licensing.

You can download full size JPG (HERE)


A New Chapter

The above photo is of my daughter heading out the door for her day at kindergarten: a new chapter. This day closes a chapter in my life. This day, especially the morning, was the most emotional day I have had since the day she was born. It seems that she was just squeezing my little finger moments after she was delivered and now 5yrs later she's heading out the door. She smiles and tells me she loves me. I smile, “I love you too baby girl”. We walk to the bus together.

Three months ago I set out in search of a fresh direction in life. Not a dramatic life change but a new sense of purpose. A new chapter.

The question was asked to me “What would your life look like if you could not fail?” My life would be the same minus the day-to-day worries. I would keep my business as is, wife and daughter as is, disease (almost) as is. I know how disturbing that must sound, who would keep a disease as is. I do want a cure. I know that this condition has brought me to this moment, to me actually writing down that I can mange this, better yet, I can do something good with it. I like that. It gives me the fresh direction in life that I’ve been searching for.

What gives me this optimistic outlook? I have no idea. Some people like sports, I like optimism. Let me tell you, this attitude of mine can piss people off, funny but true. How do I spread the word without pissing people off?

After I came out of my MS/DD closet and told the world “hey it's possible to be ok” the feedback has been staggered. Some place me on a mountain top, some just want me to shut up. One of the traits I like about myself is the ability to understand multiple perspectives when talking to people. Which means that when people place me on the mountain top those who wish to push me off are equally as right. I pray for a soft landing with the hope of helping a few along the way.

In the coming months I am going to have the opportunity to have a conversation about doing advocacy work. I like that. I hope it works out. I keep telling the world that I want to be the Lance Armstrong of MS/DD, this could be my start.

Let me leave you with a lesson learned (this lesson is equally applied in health, creativity & life).

Perfection is found in the process. Do not concern yourself with the results, concern yourself with the process.

Process over outcome, in every aspect of life.



Current Reading: Chi Running by Danny Dreyer
Current Music: Wake Up by John Legend & The Roots
Mood: Satisfied
Sounds: Back ground sounds of news on TV
Smells: Eggs, Spinach & coffee
Temperature: 81 degrees
Thoughts: Process over outcome, in every aspect of life.


Thank You's, Feedback & One Minute

It's a new day and before I get going on this post today there are a couple of people I would like to thank for helping me to get my story out to the world.

Joe Perez, who is a writer that I have followed for years. Thank you Joe for your inspiring words and providing me with a title for my story. Neal Griebling of Future Design Studio. Neal has been a guiding voice to me over this summer, helping me to write the next chapter of my life. Chris Miller, thank you for re-designing my blog and bringing a clear message of what I want to present to the world. Lastly to my wife, you are the only medicine I will ever need...

Now onto the feedback. This is what learned from the sharing of my story on Monday.

First, thank you for your e-mails, kind words and well wishes. They mad my day!

I received the greatest amount of feedback from outside the MS/DD community. That was not at all what I was expecting, I was expecting a collective “Yeah, it's possible to live well with a disease.”

What I received (for the most part) from within the MS/DD community were people sharing their stories with me about feeling judged when they tell their positive thoughts on Facebook pages, forums, websites...etc. I have felt that way too and it's an isolating feeling.

To those living with the disease I say THANK YOU for sharing your success stories with me. My advice to you is this: Be Not Afraid, Speak Up, Share, Share, Share those encouraging words.... We need more of this. Months ago I read a story about a man with DD getting back on his mountain bike and riding for the first time in a year. I loved it. There are people who still go for the mountain top. I want to be one of those people.

We all miss our previous life of wellness and pain free living. A life where the nightmares were left in our sleeping state. Today I breathe and that is good. Today you breathe and that is good. Let's do something new with our breath.

Lesson learned #2 (see Lesson Learned #1 HERE). One minute of effort a day leads to the greatest improvements.

Go start a new one minute of practice of your own. It could be one minute of writing, one minute of prayer or meditation, one minute of exercise, one minute of gratefulness, one minute of artistic practice, one minute of...

Share your minute with me.


Living Life with the Heart of a Servant and the Strength of a Fighter

In October of 2005 I was told that I have a progressive form of Multiple Sclerosis, while also being diagnosed with Devics Disease a few years later. On January 26 of 2006, my wife gave birth to our daughter. I spent the first year of my daughter’s life sick. It was and is a life with symptoms that made it hard for me to walk, hard for me to have any feeling below the waist, both legs numb and tingling at all times never to subside, muscle weakness, loss of coordination, loss of muscle toning causing stiffness, pain and restricting free movement of my right hand and left side of my mid selection, optic neuritis, electrical shock and buzzing sensations zapping the middle of my back, fatigue, and random other whatnots.

Six years into this journey and I still have all of the symptoms listed above. What I no longer am is a person who identifies with being sick. I am not infallible...I get sick for periods at a time, I get flare-ups and attacks, I have an illness without a cure, I live with the effects that this disease has over me, but I am not sick. I live a well life. A life filled with effort and purpose by living a healthy and creative life. Being a father, husband, photographer and business owner has saved my life...all because I want to be there for everything.

I want to help you in your life in whatever way I can. My goal is to get others with this disease to stand and walk, to create things, to connect and to grow; to be well with a disease without a cure.

I want to be the Lance Armstrong of MS/DD. I want to start telling the world about how to be healthy while having a disease without a cure. Armstrong did this with cancer and a bike. I want to do this with MS/DD, a camera, a pen and my feet.

This past winter of 2011 I was barely able to get out of bed and when I did I wasn’t able to walk without the aid of a cane. Slowly I started to move daily...now in August of 2011 I am able to trail run five miles. I have the goal of becoming a charity runner for MS/DD.

For six years I have kept a blog but never used the words MS/DD. Briefly at times I would hint to my illness but never would the words be said out loud. Why? Fear.

I am a photographer, people hire me with the expectation that I will show up. Never have I wanted to place doubt in a client’s perception of me. Fear kept me from telling the world.

Today I can say that MS/DD has made me a better photographer, business man and hopefully husband and a father. It has taught me to show up. To show up to whatever needs to be focused on that day. It has taught me how to live in the present, not to dwell on what might be. Trust me that is hard to do, especially when you’re in a dark place of illness. It has taught me to enjoy life, to give to others without expectations, to live with purpose.

At this point in my life I want to share my success stories (& hopefully your success story) of living a well life with a disease that has no cure.

Let me be very clear that I am not talking about a cure. This is about living well with the disease. I have chased down many snake oil promises for a cure. What I am promoting is not a cure. It’s an outlook and a philosophy on living your life.

I have taken an integral approach to my wellness, body, mind and soul because all are of equal importance. I think about moving my body, I think about the food (fuel) that I place into my body, I think about my relationships, I think about my thoughts, I think about quieting my mind. I journal, I blog, I play guitar, I take photographs, I walk, I run, I pray, I meditate.

This disease can attack me at any moment, and attack is the right word. A right punch from this disease can blindside me at any moment and I have been there, all too often. I get up slowly at times but I always get up.

Lesson learned #1. There is no perfection, only the process of what I can control.

I never wanted to talk about my illness. Still don’t. I do not want to be a person whose life is defined by the diagnosis of a disease. I want to talk about the lessons learned from living with the disease. These are not lessons on medical advice or tips or tricks to wellness, nor are these suggestions on how to handle side effects from medicine. These are lessons about putting in the effort.

My goal is to help others lead a life filled with health, creativity, simplicity infused with the “heart of a servant” and the “strength of a fighter”. And that takes practice.

I invite you to join me in this journey. Please pass this along if it inspired you. Facebook this, Tweet this, e-mail this to friends and family struggling with these diseases.


Top 10 list of Daughter & Daddy Similarities

Jotted this list down after spending a morning playing with my daughter:

1. Pants are always optional
2. Poopie jokes are funny
3. Barefoot is best
4. Books at bedtime. Always.
5. Belly zerberts is just good parenting
6. Lady GaGa & Taylor Swift are dreamy
7. Monkey-bar workouts for us
8. Phineas and Ferb is the best TV show. Ever.
9. We both love Mommy
10.We both like to color inside the lines but think outside the box. It’s our own existential crisis with a crayon in hand.


Nationally Published, Updates & Stuff

Ok, so this makes us feel good...we have been nationally published twice this week.

Style Me Pretty featured one of our engagement sessions. You can read the story over at Elizabeth’s blog.

Indian Wedding Site featured one of our weddings.

Also, Check out our website (www.craig-photography.com). We have added a crazy amount of new photos.

If is this is not enough self marketing, you can also see our new Facebook page which has a zillion of photos, truly zillions.


Renaissance Man or Singular Focus

I am disciplined by nature; I say my prayers, eat my vegetables, and do my push-ups. But the one thing that has always been lacking for me is that I can’t pick a direction and stick with it.

Singular focus: I’ve never been good at that. To have the drive and attention to do one thing well for long periods of time. It just doesn't seem natural.

It’s all about composition and creating something new to me. I have the discipline for creating but not the passion to master one subject in its totality, if that's even possible.

Guitar, camera or the pen? Business man or working artist? Zen or Christianity? These are all passions of mine but I have mastered none. Conceivably I’m a renaissance man like Leonardo Da Vinci?

In reading all these endurance books over this summer the one running thought that I kept asking myself was “ how do they fight the boredom and repetition of their day?” Even during my obsessive study of Bach I would read about students practicing their instrument for ten hours at a time. I have spent a lifetime with a guitar on my lap but never have I practiced for ten straight hours. Never.

So I struggle with the divided nature of renaissance man or singular focus.

My wife has the gift of singular focus when it comes to her photography. She is a woman's photographer; a creative portraitist and that is her love and passion behind the lens. She is always developing her talents in this direction. I am proudly jealous of her photography in this way, (but it's also nice to have a sugar momma; it's good for the renaissance man's soul).

Capturing a photo is all about documenting a singular moment of focus.

Perhaps a renaissance man can have a singular focus even if it's fleeting....



Current Reading: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Current Music: Nothing - recommend something good?
Mood: Dreamy
Sounds: laundry machine
Smells: Coffee
Temperature: 74 degrees, cloudy & gray outside.
Thoughts: Health. Creativity. Life. Simplicity.


Published ~ Indian Wedding Photographers

Happy to tell you that we got one of our recent Indian weddings published on a national Indian wedding site! We were contacted a little while ago and asked if we would mind sharing Ashima & Neel’s wedding photos for their site.

I don’t know if you remember Ashima & Neel (see slide show here) their wedding was jam-packed full of the most awesome festivities, food and details. It was a very emotional weekend and the energy surrounding everything was so contagious. With the Sangeet/Mehendi at PNC Park (Neel is a big baseball fan) and a gigantic wedding and reception at the Pittsburgh Hyatt, we were just hanging on with both hands trying not to fall off.

IndianWeddingSite published 3 separate posts: the Sangeet/Mehendi, the Wedding and the Reception. Gorgeous! And also don’t forget to drop by our Indian Wedding Photography website!


On Walking

Sunday afternoon I took a long walk to get two slices of pizza.

I slept in that morning and after a pot of coffee, photo editing, and too much marketing research I got up from my desk and walked.

Walking over the years has become my church; this is where I feel the presence and trust me I have spent more time in churches than most church ladies...truly. When I walk I can see the seasons change, flowers bloom and flowers dying, grass turning green to burning out from the sun, to the leaves falling off the trees. I see neighbors, not often though, few leave their homes. I do see some at times. I wave as I walk by, they have come to know me. There is one man who is always standing out at the end of his driveway on the right hand side where he places his trash. No matter what time of day I walk by there he is standing there, sometimes on his phone, sometimes smoking, sometimes just standing and staring out. I have come to think of him as my neighborhood gnome, always there, always present without purpose. I wonder what he thinks of me as I walk by.

As I walk out of my neighborhood I past a hospital. I see, as always, that the parking lot is full; there are never any open spots. Cars circle around doing loop-t-loops searching for a spot to park. I have used the services of this hospital myself. It is nice, nice people work there, and that is what makes the sick well. So I guess a full lot means there are people being treated nice, this is good.

Next I pass a park that is lined with tennis courts. Wish I could play, I have tried at times but with little success. A good photographer friend of mine was teaching me years ago but he was too good and I was too slow. These courts are littered with the geriatric, dressed in white: clean white clothes, clean white shoes and clean white hair. There are couples playing doubles and I smile every time and think “maybe when I’m sixty I’ll take up the sport”.

There is a patch of woods that I cut through on my way. This is the spot of land where I decided to take up trail running. This patch of woods is filled with loop-t-loop trails that are far enough for me to work up a good sweat but not too far that I could not cry out for help if I broke a leg. I am a month and a half into running and breaking a leg hasn't happened, not yet at least. I named this park wood-chip-trail with my daughter years ago. Not sure if that's the real name but at the entrance the trails are lined with wood-chips and it gives you the feeling that you're walking through a Disney forest scene.

As I come out of the woods I make my way into the next business district, now just one mile from the best pizza. I walk down the sidewalk past mom and pop stores. I wonder how they stay in business, but I’m glad that they do. Never once have I spent a dime in any of these places, except the pub.

I walk into the pizza shop, order two slices and large iced tea. There are five booths lining the wall, the first four booths are filled with men sitting alone staring at the TV on the wall, which has a golf game on. I take the fifth booth and start reading a City Paper while I wait for my order to be ready. Two guys in front of me start talking about how great the weather is in San Diego, I’ve only been there once and the weather was nice, white beaches too. As I listen to this conversation I wonder what is worse: that I am eves-dropping or actually interested in San Diego weather? Five guys, siting in five separate booths all eating alone on a Sunday afternoon. We all must have our story of why we are eating alone on a Sunday afternoon. Mine is that my wife and daughter are out shopping. I would much rather eat alone than go shopping. The gentleman in the first booth looks as if he had a hard life, you can see it in the wrinkles in his skin. You just know that he has stories to tell, but all he does is eat his pizza and at the oddest moment he speaks up and says, "Laguna beach. That is nice if you're in San Diego go there." And he goes back to eating.

I get my slices, take my time eating them.

I walk back home.



Current Reading: Running On Empty by Marshall Ulrich
Current Music: Pat Metheny, What's It All About
Mood: Trail running excited
Sounds: My wife reading a story to my daughter
Smells: Who Smurfed
Temperature: 82 degrees
Thoughts: Trail running, meditation and writing, there is something profound in this trinity....hope I can discover what it is?



We have been experimenting with different lighting set-ups this year. This is what I learned (or in truth, remembered).

Flex TTL - Nikon PocketWizard
is good, not great. When set for TTL, flash recycle time has become an issue. When the flash is set in Manual, no problems at all.

Tripod and a reflector are still my best weapons of choice for off-camera light.

Late to the game on researching this, White Lightning (self-contained studio flashes), which I call “canned light”, are less expensive than most high-end flashes. I just had to send a flash into Nikon to have it fixed. If the flash repair cost more than $300 I am going with a new White Lightning.

Natural light is how I prefer to shoot. I feel it is the best way to create separation between you and other photographers. Natural light is never the same twice......


Zombie, Zendo & Motion

I remember the pain but I forgot how bad it feels.

This summer I have been on a transformational journey of body, mind and soul. At times on this blog I write about my health and its condition. I do my best to stay away from words (thoughts) like "disease", "illness" and other depressing verbiage. Why? We all suffer in some way. No need to label mine.

Two months ago I set out to rehab myself from this past winter of sickness and also set into motion training for this upcoming winter season. For reasons unbeknownst to me winter is hard on me, body, mind and soul...hard.

For 60 days I have been a soldier to my mission at hand. I started slowly with push-ups and pull-ups in my backyard, doing as many as I could, which wasn't much. Daily I built my strength. Walking at first around the block, progressing to walking 5 miles a day. Three weeks ago I started trail running, which I love. Back in March of this year I was walking with a cane and today I am trail running. I feel like Lance Armstrong, minus the cancer and the fame. No ultra marathon in my future as of yet, but who knows? Ego is alive and getting stronger, push-ups do a body good.

I fuel myself with a library of endurance books, reading everything that I could get my hands on. I motivated myself with thoughts of my wife and daughter while chanting the mantra “heart & strength” over and over in my head. I’ve even hired a business coach to help guide me along this journey. We talk about the “now” the “what might be” and the dreaded “yes/but” moments we all face in life. It's a cocktail of therapy and business advice from a guy who looks like George Carlin and talks like the Dalai Lama. He thinks I should write a book.

I joined a Zendo to develop my meditation practice. I see it as training for what might never come, but I want the foundation to be laid if needed.

Two days ago I had a set back. I awoke to pain and a feeling deep inside of me that was not good. A shakiness in the core of my body has returned. I call this feeling “zombie fog syndrome”. 60 days of work gone, for not. When zombie mode strikes, life mentally becomes hard. I question every move that I made over the past couple of days, I question every piece of food that I consumed, I even question the people that I came into contact with, constantly searching for patterns that might lead to answers. No answers arise, no patters form.

Sunday morning I sat through an hour and a half of zazen in this zombie fog of pain and self doubt. The only reason I went was a nagging feeling I had all throughout the night of “do not miss it". I awoke early, so I went.

This meditation was not my best, my mind ran wild with thoughts and my body surged with pain. Not once did I feel relief while on the mat. The bell rings three times and the zazen period is over. Thank God I say to myself as I try to stand and not look as if I was going to fall over.

After the session was over and I walked to my car I noticed a sensation flowing through my body. This is good. I feel ok. Pain is subsiding.

Motion, 60 days of motion in body, mind and soul. This is my answer! I trained myself for motion. Health is out of my control at this time. Motion is not. I can move forward, if the body fails I can move the mind , if the mind fails I can move the spirit. As long as I have breath I have motion. I am in control, this is what I learned. This is what I wish to share with you.

My life is guided by the simple words of “create, connect & grow”. I am learning that it is all about the act of motion. Motion is the fuel for my philosophy.

Do something good, repeat it, then share it....that is motion....