Get Critique ~Insanely Useful Photography Tips

I am always at the beginning no matter how far down the path I go.  20 years of being a working photographer and this is what I have learn. I need to be critiqued to get better!

Being critiqued is a lost art that desperately needs to be brought back into photography.

Growth only happens when you feed the creative-soul. In a social media world of “thumbs-up” and “likes” being the benchmark of how we judge our work...we are all starving.

In my conversation/critique sessions with Vincent Pugliese he has taught me the “why” of what I do.  The why of how I wish to create, capture and compose a photograph.

Most successful photographers have mastered the “what” and “how” of our profession but unlocking the “why” is seldom thought about.

VP brings this to the forefront of his photographic approach to critiquing a photograph.

Getting to the “why” is not easy.

The “what” and “how”...that we know.

What: we take photos because we love it, it is our passion, it is a source of income.
How: technical knowledge of gear, light and 10,000 hours behind the camera.

This is where most photographers stop growing and ultimately it leads to their failure.

Why: it’s not because we love it (love, passion, money is all part of “what”).  “Why” is deeper. “Why” goes into every click of the shutter, every frame we snap. “Why” is discovering the inspiration, the experience, the belief...it’s the reason we do what we do.  “Why” motivates us to stay with the mysteries and to aspire, to transform, to create something new.

Through conversation/critiquing sessions with VP you will discover the deeper meaning of the “why” within your work.

Understanding of the “why” will unveil strengths (& weaknesses) that you have. Trust me, Vin will not hold back on your weaknesses; his “bootcamp approach” is not for the thumbs-up crowd.  It is for those of us willing to do the work and move into a higher tier of photographic excellence.

This is a personal journey for the photographer; there is no one way to create an exposure and there is no one way to be a photographer. VP will critique you on becoming the best working-professional-photographer that you can be. Notice that I have hyphenated the last words together in the previous sentence because that is the trinity that he will guide you towards.

After my time with VP, I find myself taking lots more photos, shooting more efficiently, shooting more relaxed, enjoying the process more than ever before (trust me I thought I was happy with my previous work).

As for me my “why” is: to create purposeful photographs that document the legacy of the subject, to bring providence to the viewers and to strip away the non-essential elements that do not add to the story within the frame.

What is your why?

Create, Connect & Grow,
John Craig


Photography Class & Lecture ~ Last Night

My apologies to anyone who was not informed about my photography class and lecture last night. It was unexpectedly canceled do to items outside of my control.

The class will be reschedule for the beginning of September.  All who sign up will receive a phone a call when the date is released.

Lots of you did sign up (thank you) there is a good possibility that a second class may be added.



Current Reading: South of the Border, West of the Sun by Murakami
Current Music: Gregg Allman Low Country Blues (on Vinyl)
Mood: Satisfied
Smell: New carpeting
Sounds: Tami Simon on Good Life Project
Temperature: 93 degrees
Thought: Monthly photo 101 class is brewing in my mind....


New Tune ~ Never Give Up

New project:
Me: bass guitar.
Erik Vecere: guitar, vocals and drum programming

We also fight crime when not playing music.


Featured | Style Me Pretty

You can see the full featured (HERE)

Special thanks to the Fairmont for allowing us to use their suite to and Justine of Beauty Justified for all the beauty!


The New Normal Life With NMO

This is all that I know for sure:

Eat your vegetables and say your prayers.
In case of emergency, breathe and smile.
Do not give up on being human.

This is it, this is all that I have learned from living with a disease. In the past two years I have written 27 blog posts about life with NMO (Devic’s disease). You would think that I would have lots to share. Sadly, I don’t. Nonetheless it’s an interesting read if I do say so myself! Take the time, give it a read.

For the better part of this year I have not written about my disease, nothing on the blog, nothing in my journal. Did my best to keep it out of my mind as much as possible. I tried to transform the notion of this disease being part of me. I failed.

I was trying to lose my shadow.  My shadow knocked me down. This past March I had an attack that put me in my place. Over two years on my journey towards a radical reversal gone. Back to the starting line. I did the work, slowly, daily, to rehab myself. Progress was minimal, my mindset was to learn to live with the new normal. The “new normal” is that there will never again be a normal.

The best part of my rehab was riding bikes with my wife.  Rides that I soon would call my “soul scrubbing sessions".  During these rides we would go on to have conversations about life, health, spirit and keeping the blue fog of sadness out of my mindset. We would go out for maybe 30 minutes followed by a short walk.  It is good.  It is the best medicine.  It is healing.  If you do not have a “soul scrubber” in your life I recommend you get one; they're not covered by health insurance, but by the grace of God.

Five months since the attack and I can now go for long walks in the woods but I can not run.  I can go for two hour bike rides with my wife, but I can barely climb a hill. Some days I have energy, some days I do not. Some days I am sore all over, some days I feel light as air.  The new normal is that there will never again be a normal.

For a long time I wanted to be the poster child to the NMO community.  I wanted to get people to eat better, to exercise more, to not give up on being human, to live healthy with a disease.

Then one day I no longer wanted to be the poster child.  I became tired of answering e-mails from people who never had the intention of placing effort into their wellness, never had the intention to put down the processed food, never had the intention to take responsibility for their own life.  If this offends some of you, so be it.  I am ok with that. Sometimes people just want to be sick and to have excuses for whatever keeps them from not being happy. Sometimes a disease is the best “get out of jail card”.

I was hoping to get Oprah to interview me for this part of the blog post, sadly she was not interested.  I can imagine the entire show: “Part One: Lance Armstrong falls from grace. And next up after the break, John Craig ousts himself as the NMO poster child, stepping down from a made up position that nobody asked him to do in the first place.”  Sounds like good TV to me.  I’m sure some drug company would be glad to be an advertiser for a show like that.

Then life changes. You get sick, you get better but you are not the same.  I became a chrysalis to my health. Not the same but morphed into something new.

Recently I have been receiving e-mails from people without a disease looking to help and inspire others with a disease. They are looking for someone who has succeeded in transforming their life with a disease. These e-mails breathe fresh air into my world. Thank you.  To these folks writing to me I say: Go out and be that soul scrubber to whoever needs you. Simply writing to me means that your are doing the work needed to help others. God bless you.”

Lesson learned: Let me expand on the above three things that I have learned.

Eat your vegetables: In the begging there was the Garden of Eden, not the chemical laden junk food tree that only produced disease. Fruits and vegetables create a healthy life, processed foods create disease. Your choice.

Say your prayers: If you are going to ask God for help or ask people to pray for you on your behalf...earn those prayers.  I believe in the power of prayer. What I do not believe in is waiting around for prayers to work.  Go out and place effort into the prayers that are being offered up on your behalf. There are lots of things for people to pray for in today’s world. If they are going to pray for you, do the work, put in the effort to becoming a healthy person. God helps those who help themselves.

Breathe: People forget this one all the time. Take five minutes each day and simply breathe in and out slowly.  Disease has a hard time living in an oxygen-rich environment.  Breath is our connection to life. Breath is how we can quiet the mind. Purposeful breath is how we learn to listen.

Smile: Laugh your way through this disease. It’s ok to laugh out loud when you fall down. When you live with a disease it will bring sadness to those around you, to those who have watched you suffer at times.  Giving smiles to those around you is one of the most healing things that you can do for others.  Go ahead right now, breathe and smile. It feels good all over.

Do not give up on being human: (stay with me on this one)
The paradox is that there are no paradoxes. There is no such thing as the new normal. In Zen, we try to transform our suffering. In Christianity, we try to be redeemed from our sins. In disease, we try to get back to “life before the illness”.  But in truth, all there really can be is the “is-ness” of this moment; it is what it is becoming.  How we treat each moment is up to us. Sometimes we do good and sometimes we fall short and that is normal. That is being human. Do not forget that.

In ending, I may not be the poster child that I once envisioned myself to be. At best, I have learned to manage life with the disease...as of today I have not succeeded but I also have not failed.  I hope that these words can help some of you along on your journey of managing your disease.

My journey continues…..

Heart of a servant
Strength of a fighter

John Craig


Featured | Style Me Pretty

Featured in Style ME Pretty today, give it a look and leave a comment, would love your feed back.  You can see full gallery and insprration (Here)



Photography Class & Lecture

I will be speaking at South Park Library as part of their summer creative series.  For those of you that have attended workshops of mine in the past this is a good chance to get a refresher.  For those of you wanting to take my workshop in the future this is a great sneak peek into what you will learn.

I will be discussing “All Things Photography” and there will be an extensive Q andA session at the end of the lecture.

Date: Tuesday July 22nd
Time: 7pm
Place: South Park Library
Cost: Free



Current Reading: Creative Filming by Dannenbaum, Hodge, Mayer
Current Music: Wave of Mutilation by The Pixies
Mood: Looking forward
Smells: Coffee
Sounds: TV, conversation, typing keys
Temperature: 84 degrees 
Thoughts: Non-automated-specialist is the job of the future.


Vecere & Craig ~ First new music in 20yrs

New project:
Me on nylon string guitar and bass.
Erik Vecere on lead guitar and drum programming