Which Side Are You On?

Last week I needed to take a walk. When the weather turns cold my bones chill deep inside me.  I get a winter chill, a long lasting winter chill. No matter what I do this chill will not leave me.  The chill not only encompasses my body but slows down the thoughts in my head.  Light from the sun, no matter how cold the breeze may be, is my only means of escape from this fog that chills me. . . mind, body and soul.

I grab my camera, hat, scarf and out the door I go in search of the original whatever; something new to stoke the fire inside of me.

I walk the streets of Pittsburgh, it's around 10am and the city is quiet. The only people out are smokers on a break. Every time I see smokers this Kurt Vonnegut quote comes to my mind “flame at one end a fool at the other” ~ Vonnegut. How I wish that I had written that. I walk along the sidewalk doing my best to avoid walking through a plume of smoke. 

Turn the corner and walk throughout the remnants of “Occupy Pittsburgh” , which is currently a ghost town.  Not sure if the protestors have gone home for the winter or if the legal action that Bank of New York Mellon has taken against the movement is keeping people out.

The guitar player inside of me loves a good protest; peaceful civil disobedience of citizens pulling together for a common purpose. On that day there was no music, nor conversation, nor people; only tents left as reminders of the cause that was or will be again.

I walk up and down the aisle of the tent city as if I was walking through a cemetery.  Respectful of the soil where I place my feet, taking my time to notice what was left behind but never touching, moving slowly as not to disturb the resting.

The tent city was beaten down by the weather but well kept by those who lived there.  No trash left behind, only lawn chairs and camping gear line the pathways.  The sky and the trees reflected the feel of what it was like to be there that day: barren, grey, cloudy.

I walk across the street to a restaurant, grab a veggie sandwich and a cup of coffee.  I sit at a bar stool by the front window, which gives me a view of the tent city.  I eat, people-watch and notice how nobody even glances at the “Occupy” movement. Person after person walks by the tent city never stopping.  The sign posted on the lawn goes un-read, the memorials built by “Occupy Citizen” are overlooked.  This place is a ghost town in the middle of a metropolis.  I finish my sandwich, thank the guy behind the bar and go home.

Which side are you on: 1% or 99%?  “I will always stand on the side of the egg.”  ~ Haruki Murakami. A deeply meaningful quote if you take the time to notice.

For more information on Occupy Pittsburgh go (HERE)
To see more photos go (HERE)


2012 Pittsburgh Photography Workshop | Beginner’s DSLR Workshop | WORKSHOP #3!

Come join us for workshop #3! Click HERE to register.

This will be our last workshop in 2012: book now or wait till 2013.


Camera vs. Vending Machine

Let’s talk about photography. Better yet let’s talk about taking a photo. 

Let me be radically honest with you (this may hurt), creating a photo in Auto mode is comparable to feeding yourself from a vending machine. You click a button, you view limited options, you settle for what the machine gives you. Not very satisfying!

Placing your camera in Auto mode is not taking a photo; it’s a snap shot.  You may love it, you may be excited about what you captured, you may enlarge the print and hang it on your wall as art, but it is not a photograph.

Our fist two workshops have sold out and we will be announcing a third date later in the week. This will be our last workshop in 2012: book now or wait till 2013.

I want to give a brief overview of what the workshop will be (you can see the tear sheet here for the nuts and bolts of the class). This workshop is a “Human-Centered” approach to creating photos that you want to capture.  It is not a “Machine-Supremacy” approach on how to scroll through the never-ending menu options in your camera. If you are only applying the built-in-do-it-for-you Auto functions then you are really not doing anything.

Notice in the last paragraph I use “Human-Centered” vs. “Machine-Supremacy” approach to creating a photo: also notice that I used quotes and capitals letters...I’m not messing around.

The purpose of the workshop is to enrich your interaction with the camera.  You will go from isolating limitation of Auto mode to having the courage to place your camera in Manual mode and take responsibility for what you wish to create. With responsibility comes experience, enjoyment, learning a new skill and crazy amounts of self confidence that you will be able to apply in all aspects of your life. 

At this spot I must pause to say this next sentence with full disclosure:

I am not anti-technology nor anti-digital anything. I love all the glories and splendor that digital technology has given to me. Steve Jobs I mourn you, Kodak I mourn you and this is my point: you must know where you came from to know where you want to go.

Digital technology is good, giving your creative control over to a machine is bad.

This workshop will teach you to think of your camera as an instrument of unlimited potential, not a vending machine where you press a button with limited choices. 



This morning I am having my first cup of home brewed authentic Italian coffee, prepared in a Moka pot.
Seven years ago my wife and I went on vacation to Italy where we went on to drink plenty of coffee and a ample amount of wine everyday.  Years later we are still talking about that experience of drinking Italian coffee.

A quick Google search, one YouTube video and order place at Amazon, two week later we are drinking that authentic coffee that we have been yearning for.

The fist thing I notice is that it took 20 minutes to brew. My normal morning ritual has coffee in my cup in under 5 minutes. Next, I noticed how little coffee this Moka pot makes, reminding me, Italy little cups, America big cups, Italy thin waisted people, America...well you get the point. Last thing I noticed is how good it tasted.

Take the time to notice the good.

I have observed several conversation as of late where people take more time to notice what is wrong vs what is right. This is fault that I find in myself more than not, oddly, I a what most people consider a optimist person, withstanding the fact that I do notice faults moreover than qualities in others.

I’m working on that.


Wedding Photos

You want to some of our wedding photography? View slide show (HERE)
Its a long video, 16 minutes....best view with a glass of wine and a loved one.


2012 Pittsburgh Photography Workshop | Beginner’s DSLR Workshop

Click HERE to register!
To register follow this link: http://craig-photography.com/workshop/howtophoto/


You Got To Experience Shit Fully

For the past few weeks I have spent an inordinate amount of time asking the same question.  I asked this question to others and myself, never getting a good answer.  Then from a Zen Chaplin the answer was given to me.

I spent the last hour having a conversation with this gentleman.  We meet every so often and talk; just talk about whatever is on our minds. I always look forward to these discussions because I know I will walk away inspired and full of life.

I am standing by the front door getting ready to leave, my coat is on, my hand is on the door knob and I am getting ready to say goodbye. He then proceeds to tell me a story he hadn't yet shared with me. I am standing in a room filled with books and a Jackson Pollack poster hangs on the wall.  I never really got Pollack; people ask me my thoughts on him all the time and I am sure my ambient photography has subtly been influenced by his work. The Chaplin tells me the story of the Ox Herder painting in the Buddhist culture. With an exhausted breath laden with laughter he releases the words: “you need to experience shit fully”.

My question:

Why do we make the decisions that we do? Do we understand the repercussions of our decisions? Question that thought.  More times than not, when we choose on the side of “doubt” we choose sin.

The struggle to answer your own thoughts is the hardest thing that you will ever have to do.  To sit and listen to what your mind creates; to sit with a thought.  But did you create that thought? That thought that you are having right now? Yes, that one right there. Did it arise or did you create it? Are you the manifestor of that thought or merely the witness to what is arising in your conscious?

My answer: “you need to experience shit fully”.

I smile, thank him for his time and walk out into the cold air and bright sun knowing I just had one of those “A-ha!” moments.  I sit in my car and scribble notes down quickly in my journal.  I write “Do more, do less, experience shit fully.” I race home and try my best to describe the conversation to my wife. I am never good at this. I just had this life awakening God-slap-moment and when trying to get the words back out of my mouth in some sort of order it sounds so simple. Mind numbingly simple...it is always simple. Why is it that when you have a sudden realization of a great truth that it sounds so maddeningly simple when you say it out loud??

If I ever made what would be considered a pilgrimage, it was to City Lights bookstore in San Francisco Ca. The mecca for some of my favorite writers: Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and Henry Miller all spent time in this store, both socially, politically and to sell books.

It was some time in the early nineties when I found out that I would be going to San Francisco.  I would be flying out of Pittsburgh, my first trip ever to the West Coast for a photography business trip. It still feels odd after all these years to use the words photo and business in the same sentence, but you gotta pay the mortgage.

Ok, so this is the early nineties, before Google maps and before I had money to pay a taxi driver to take me to City Lights book store before I had the common seance to route out a plan. I had a map of a bus station and a page torn out of the yellow pages taken from my hotel night stand.

I stayed at a hotel over by Fisherman’s Wharf.  The bookstore is a short jaunt by car or long walk right down Columbus Ave. in the heart of San Fran. Three bus stops later, and being lost for over 2hrs, I discover the closeness of my proximity.

This is life: experiencing shit fully, lost in a city and living the words of my favorite writer trying to find my way. This memory came back to me after the Zen Chaplain spoke those words.

Life is about non-stop creating.  Do not give up on being human. This has been my message that I have been shouting from the mountain top. If you stop creating then you give up on being human.  The body wants to be in creating mode at all time.  Creating itself anew is the basic condition essential to support biological growth.  This is how we are made up; the blood never stops flowing.  The body does this on its own.  The mind needs help. The mind will shut down and stop trying if we do not guide it, feed it, place effort and purpose into it.

Creativity is the fuel that move us...internally and externally. 

We create purposefully or the body creates disease, that is what our conversation was about.

Question that thought…is it really true?

It's odd to be told that your are healthy. People get put off when they are told that they are well.  "No, not me I have this problem, I have this ache, I take this pill", they will say.

What is healthy? No fatigue? Good blood work? A small waist line? A person who takes no pills? A person who sleeps well? A person who says their prayers and eats their vegetables?

Good health is experiencing shit fully. Do more, do less, change your routine, get off the treadmill of redundancy, stop reliving Groundhog Day.

Create something new.
Share it with somebody.



~ A couple of cool updates

We are thrilled to announce that we won: The Knot Best of Wedding for 2012 & Wedding Wire Bride’s Choice Award for 2012.

Our February 25th workshop is filling up. If you are trying to decide if you are the right type of person who should attend be sure to read Elizabeth’s blog post today (HERE).


Photo of the Week

Read the post from 1.6.12 for an understanding of the compostion of this photo...

Turns out our first Beginner’s DSLR Workshop was so popular we have had to close it out but I am happy to announce that because of the high demand we have now opened a 2nd workshop.

To register follow this link.


Thoughts from Yesterday

Watched the documentary on Annie Leibovitz - Life Through a Lens, last night. 

It's rare that I study a photographer; I find my inspiration in musicians, authors and painters. With that said I thoroughly enjoyed the Leibovitz doc, you can see a clip (here).

A few mornings ago I awoke to the first snowfall of the season.  Magical, the snow blanketing the land, it conjures up the dreamer in me. 

The first thing I think about is going out at night and doing some night photography. Using the snow lined landscape and the moon as my light source bouncing and reflecting off one another.

Tonight the moon's phase will be slightly less than a full moon hopefully providing me with a haunting glow. A mystic dream of light dancing on the water tops.

At this time last year I was lying in bed sick for days (months) on end. At this moment I am feeling the need to create. There is rebirth in the act of creating; new life born from the dreams of doing something new. I like that.

Photos to come….

Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley sings in the background, the aroma of coffee fills the air and I think about how to keep warm in the twilight.

People have been reaching out to me as of late asking for words of inspiration on dealing with their illness, life and death. I hope you find comfort in these words.

The chattering turned into a deafening explosion
The words dropped from his lips
Breath and smile
Last thing you will get to do: breathe!
Create something new...



Current Reading: Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons
Current Music: That Used to Be Us: by Thomas Friedman
Sounds: Typing, music and a humming heater warming my feet.
Smells: Coffee
Temperature: 30 degrees
Thoughts: Too often when there is doubt we choose the sin of connivance.

Turns out our first Beginner’s DSLR Workshop was so popular we have had to close it out but I am happy to announce that because of the high demand we have now opened a 2nd workshop.

To register follow this link.


Pittsburgh Photography Workshop | Beginner’s DSLR Workshop | WORKSHOP #2!

To register follow this link.(Here)

Well well well. Can’t tell ya how thrilled I am to make this announcement! Turns out our first Beginner’s DSLR Workshop was so popular we have had to close it out but I am happy to announce that because of the high demand we have now opened a 2nd workshop. Our 2nd workshop will be held on February 25. As you can see from the illustration below it is the same content, same time and same place. We hope you will join us!