Monday, June 27, 2016

Stanley talks about Don Rutledge's photos

photo by: Don Rutledge
In my last blog post I talked a little about understanding how to create photos that communicate. In this post I am showing your my mentor Don Rutledge's photos and sharing some of the comments that Don told me as we talked about some of his iconic images.

A mother brings here child to see the doctor.  In the background is a cow that she brought for the doctor. [photo by: Don Rutledge]


To read my thesis I put it online in my blog as separate posts:

Chapter One 

Chapter Two 

Chapter Three 

Chapter Four 

Conclusion 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Three Stages of Composition

photo by: Don Rutledge
I learned so much from Don Rutledge, my mentor. He took this photo of an Alaskan family on the tundra welcoming a missionary they called a friend. Don was walking up with the missionary and realized this was the moment.

Why does the photo connect? Learn some of the techniques that Don Rutledge taught me in this video on the three stages of composition.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Do You Know Something or Understand Something?


All artwork from "Design for Teaching and Training" by LeRoy Ford
The best classes I took for my masters degree was my education courses.

While journalists need to know their subject well, they also need to enough understanding of how persons learn to make the storytelling worthwhile.

While it is important to help people with knowledge it is very limiting. Knowledge is at the base of learning. This is where you memorize and recall information.



When you can take the pieces and create something new this is when you are demonstrating you understand the content. You are demonstrating comprehension, which is expressing ideas in new forms and even interpreting them.

You want to be able to get to the highest levels of understanding which is application, which is the transfer of the learning to a new situation.

Now you may think this is all common sense but I am finding that it isn't for many in the industry of communications.


One of the biggest issues I see with professional communicators is their lack of understanding that the content of the subject matter isn't really explored fully. While in this drawing you see how the audience has different ideas as to what is being taught, I am finding out that many communicators when they ask questions in the storytelling process with the subject they take what the subject says at face value.

They are not even aware that what the subject is talking about isn't what they are thinking they are talking about.

When I was in Nicaragua we had to have most of the students go back and clarify what the subject was talking about. They learned how to explore the subject and in the process learned how important this was to helping the audience really understand what was the problem they need help with.

Watch this package that Naomi Harward produced this story on Alvaro Ramirez and his wife, Erica, who are helping children with the issues of alcoholism and how it is affecting their country of Nicaragua.


What is important is that Naomi helped you through visuals and the audio to understand how alcoholism affects the entire family and community.

Another student covered the medical volunteers and what they were doing. Saying the people have medical needs isn't enough. By clarifying what type of services they were providing the audience now will understand we are talking about households having no medicine cabinet like we would have in our homes here. When they go and buy aspirin they don't have the money for a bottle and buy it one tablet at a time many times.

Most of the students in the class were anticipating the technical aspects of storytelling to be the biggest hurdle. They anticipated that learning how to use Adobe Premier was to be the most difficult to do.

Most realized pretty quickly understanding what a story is and capturing all the elements needed for a good storyline was quite difficult. Before they could really sit down at their computers and start sequencing their video clips and photos they had to have the content. This meant that as they were interviewing the subject they had to have a clear understanding of the objectives of the story.

There were Five Steps they had to understand about the problem to communicate it to the audience.

When working for a nonprofit the storyteller is helping educate the audience so that they understand the problem and how they can get involved in solving the problem with the organization.


Now while I am teaching the students about how to do effective storytelling I am moving the students through all these stages of learning.

We show them all the microphones they can use for an interview. [Knowledge] We show them how to record an interview. [Comprehension] Then we send them out to practice with each other so they are getting a clean audio and well exposed video. [Application]

Once they go out into the field and do the actual interview we review it with them. Together we talk about the issues that might exist. One that was pretty common was the wind noise. [Analysis]

They are sent out again to then address all the problems they had with their first interview and also a list of things that were missing in the content of their interview. [Synthesis]

As we near the end of the editing process we are asking them questions and they are evaluating their content and deciding what they need to include or exclude to tell an effective story. [Evaluation]

Now while this is what we are doing with the students to help them learn about storytelling they are doing the same process of applying this to getting the audience engaged and understanding how they too can get involved in solving the problem of the subject of the story.

It is one thing to help people know about something and quite different to get them to understand and how they need to be involved.

You need to know does the audience just know more about the subject due to your story or do they understand your subject and now are taking action to do something about it?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Lesson Planning & Games are Keys to Effective Communication

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 360, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000
Communications professionals need to know more than the 5 Ws.
  1. Who
  2. What
  3. Where
  4. When
  5. How
I believe understanding games and educational lesson plans can make you a better communicator. 

If you do not understand and know the rules of the game you will most likely not be any good, but most likely will lose the game.

A game is only as good as its rules, and how well we play the game is defined by how well we follow the rules. What is so fascinating about many of the games we play today is that there are often no instruction books included—yet we somehow know how to play them anyway. We learn from family, friends, teachers, and coaches.

We also know that it doesn't matter if you follow the rules that the game came with or if you make up your own rules; it really just matters that everyone agrees on what the rules are.

Fuji X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/7.1, 1/750
The core to a good game is understanding the objective of the game, the subject matter, materials, the procedures and score.

Creating a game is really no different than that of creating a educational lesson plan.

Five Parts of a Lesson Plan
1. Objectives
2. Subject Matter
3. Materials
4. Procedure
5. Assignment
Objective – A statement of purpose for the whole lesson. It tells us what the students will be able to do by the end of the lesson. It will determine the activities the students will engage in.

Subject Matter – This will be the sources of material to be studied.
Topic for a lesson
References
Materials – Necessary teaching aids to be used for instruction

Procedure – This is the body of your lesson plan where you outline the steps to be taken by the teacher & student.

Assignment – where you insure good recitation, which tells us
What needs to be done
How it is to be done
Why it is to be done

Humanitarian Work


As a professional communicator for humanitarian work I am helping organizations tell their stories so that the audience will get involved. These organizations need financial support, but also volunteers to help make the work happen.

Looking at a project as a teacher would for writing a lesson plan you start with the objective. Many communicators may figure out that this is the why in the 5 Ws, but it is much more because with humanitarian work you have a call to action with the audience. When telling a journalistic story you are not telling the audience to take an action you are just informing most of the time.

Having an objective also helps you focus your questions while gathering the story that will help you meet that objective. Too many times I have been overseas capturing a story that when we go to the final step of how the audience could get involved through the call to action the organization finally realized they helped to tell a story for a local person and didn't have a great way for the audience to get involved that helped to fund the organization. They were chasing human interest stories without an objective in mind.

When doing a story you will go down many rabbit holes. If you know your objective it is much easier to redirect the subjects back on track. You know that when they started they were answering a question that then they took in another direction. You redirect them by clarifying and helping you find the supporting information which is helping you achieve your objective.

What many storytellers are lacking when it comes to using their skills for humanitarian work and for business is a purpose to their story. That purpose is a call to action. Did your story engage the audience? You must be able to measure this.

Just like at the end of the game you will know the score, great communicators with organizations know if their communication engaged the audience to action. They have the last step of the lesson plan written into their communications plan–the assignment. That is the action plan the audience will take after hearing their story.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Why pros should help students and young professionals starting out

Robin Nelson speaks to the photojournalism class at Kennesaw State University on Thusday, June 16, 2016. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 3200, ƒ/4, 1/100]
Clay Asbury, lecturer for photojournalism at Kennesaw State University, asked Robin Nelson and myself to speak to his photojournalism class.

Clay has been a working professional, but now since his role is that of faculty he knows that the students will not listen to him as much as professionals working at the moment in the industry. This is why he asked Robin and I to share our work and tips for the students.

Making sure that there is indeed a connection between what the students are learning in the classroom and the skills of professionals is key to students having a real chance at making an impact in the industry after graduating.

Clay Asbury is giving his students the assignment to write about what is the subject that they are passionate about and tell him why they are passionate about it. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 14400, ƒ/8, 1/100]
When industry professionals connect with a classroom, not only can they share with students about the skills they need, they can serve as a role model and inspire students to reach for the moon. Think about what you wouldn’t have given to get a glimpse of the real world when you were a student yourself.

Today’s Journalism schools are not the same as yesterday’s curriculum. Programs are changing to prepare the students to be cross-trained in writing, design, video, audio, and photography with all this falling under the purpose of storytelling. Often these programs are now being renamed to media storytelling or some variance of this.

Stanley talks to the students about needing to have their images evoke emotions in the audience. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 2500, ƒ/4, 1/100 photo made by Robin Nelson]
I shared with the students the importance of visual literacy. Not so much the technology of making a photo but the understanding of body language and how composition can help convey emotions and pull the audience into the story through imagery–moving and stills.

I talked about how I review portfolios, because I hire visual communicators for projects on a pretty regular basis. I wanted them to know I need to have images that communicate a message and not just cool images.

I talked to the students about dissecting photos. [link to blog on topic] I talked to them about storytelling must involve conflict. [link to blog on the topic] I also talked about the stages of composition photographers go through. [link on blog post]

Robin Nelson brought the class into a close circle and took questions from the students. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 2200, ƒ/4, 1/100]
The reason I agreed to do this for no pay is more than just paying it forward. Yes other pros had helped me, but this is just creating competition.

If pros do not take the time to help students have a good foundation for entering the profession those students will damage the industry.

I have watched so many college students and people who just buy camera gear and are self taught help to destroy the industry before they must quit because they cannot make a living any more.

I want the new professionals to do things right so that the clients we all serve are excited to hire visual communicators over and over. So many come out and do such a bad job that those who hired them want nothing to do with visual communicators again. They just figure they can do the work themselves better than any pro.

Another problem is that these newbies don’t price their work to where over time they can pay all their bills for their business as well as pay all the bills for their household. They don’t know business practices.

Because they don’t charge realistic prices then those clients think that since they hire someone before for a certain rate that they can get professional work for that rate. Sadly there are another crop of newbies who also don’t know good business practices and slowly over time not only do the newbies leave the industry because they cannot pay their bills they erode the prices for those who were charging more of a livable wage.

I also know that over time I cannot always do jobs for my clients. There will be conflicts in scheduling. I would love to have other colleagues who are true professionals in all aspects of the industry that I can refer my clients to using.

If you are starting out the best place to meet other pros and get those tips like these students have in the classroom is through organizations like ASMP and NPPA. Join them for some of the reasons I have outlined here. There are many other reasons as well.

If you are a pro take the time to mentor young professionals and students. It will only help the industry as a whole.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Turning Pro from Amateur Photographer isn't for the faint of heart

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 2000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

I reposted a blog I had done a way back that had gotten a lot of positive feedback from the photographic community.

Seven Reasons Not to Become a Freelance Professional Photographer was the blog.

It was shared 32 times through Google Plus alone. It ranks 5th of the 1098 blog posts I have written for most read. There are 44 comments on this post. Everyone on the post was positive except one that was more of a question. “Is all lost when most of these points have been true?”



My response was, “No. You just cannot continue to fail over the long haul. Again you don't have to do all of them yourself, you can outsource. My recommendation is to realize to be successful you need to 1) have good solid product consistently, 2) you need to deliver more than you promise, 2nd mile service and 3) WOW them. You need to connect with people way beyond your product. Just think of the TV show Cheers, the people came back to the bar regularly because of friendships on top of the food and good service.”

When I reposted it I had the most negative response I have had for anyone of my blogs. I started to examine why was this person so taken back by my post.

The poster slammed the blog as Listicle.
In journalism and blogging, a listicle is a short-form of writing that uses a list as its thematic structure, but is fleshed out with sufficient copy to be published as an article. A typical listicle will prominently feature a cardinal number in its title, with subsequent subheadings within the text itself reflecting this schema. The word is a portmanteau derived from list and article. It has also been suggested that the word evokes "popsicle", emphasizing the fun but "not too nutritious" nature of the listicle.

After reading a few more comments I started to realize what I think the person was having an issue with from my article. In My Humble Opinion [IMHO] the person was new to the industry and experiencing the difference from being an amateur to now the experience as a pro.

In a workshop with Scott Kelby I loved one of his comments. “If you need a hug you post in Flickr.com.”

You see as an amateur your friends and family will comment on how great of a photographer you are. However, the minute you turn pro that all changes.

I was feeling the same thing this poster seemed to be indicating in his comments that we need to wrap each other in emotional support as pros. My wife pointed out to me that you are a pro, people expect you to have great photos. They don’t comment to you for doing what is expected.

For this article I want to be clear that the difference between the word amateur and professional is solely the difference of hobby versus making a living. My comments are not about the quality of images, because I think there are many amateurs who produce better images than pros. Most amateurs however could use a dose of reality that the biggest difference for the working pro over the amateur is business skills and not photographic skills.

As an amateur you may even join a photo club where you all help one another and encourage one another. I know many of the camera clubs around me have had me speak to them and judge their competitions. I really enjoy doing this and sharing some of my knowledge with them.

Professionals understand that when they go to workshops and meetings with pros for the most part we are getting together to all get better at our business skills. We may be learning some of the same things that a camera club gets together to learn about the latest software, but we need this knowledge to remain competitive rather than just make photos.

Professionals also understand they need to pay for those classes and workshops. The people teaching them are working pros that are giving you information that will help you make a better living.

Going Pro will be a lonely journey for several reasons. Most of all your friends and family comments of how wonderful you are now will seem emptier if they are not hiring you to shoot for them. If they really thought you were so awesome wouldn’t they hire you?

While most professionals will help you not everyone will be as enthusiastic that you showed up on the scene. First of all remember in some areas of the industry like newspapers the opportunities are disappearing. When pros were making $200,000+ for shooting stock years ago and now they can barely make $20,000 doing the same type of work you showing up and taking more of the slice of pie that is smaller is very threatening.

New pros need to be aware of one major thing when they turn pro. Just because you graduated and know how to make wonderful images does not mean there is work for you right away. Every client that hired photographers last year will most likely hire those same photographers. When you do get hired often one of those photographers just lost that job you are shooting.

Now some pros take this the wrong way and therefore will do everything they can to sabotage your career. This is especially true if you setup shop in their town.

Now there is a great group of photographers I have been apart of that do not take this attitude. Now you may find one of our members like that, but I can tell you we do not encourage that at all. This group is ASMP.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 2000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

ASMP [American Society of Media Photographers] have championed business skills for photographers better than any other organization that I have been a member of for my career. I joined in 1987 and have learned more through the organization and fellow members than from any other place. Like the photo of the Citadel cadets carrying one another as they might have to do in battle to save their comrade, my ASMP fellow members carried me.

To join ASMP as a member you must get a sponsor who is satisfied that the applicant meets the eligibility requirements for Professional Membership, namely:

  1. Good moral character and reputation, and
  2. At least three consecutive years of experience as an imaging professional.

Now if you are just starting out we have an associate’s membership where you have pretty much all the same access as a member, just not voting rights. If you haven’t proven you can run a successful business for three years straight we don’t need you making business decisions for the organization.

We see the new photographers much differently. We work to find another chair and welcome you to our table. We take you under our wings and do everything we can to be sure you are successful.

The best things I learned right away from the start with ASMP were the importance of good business practices. I learned about how to figure out my cost of doing business. I learned that when I create estimates that often the client would try and negotiate for a lower price or more services for the same price.

ASMP worked to protect my copyright by helping to inform congress what this means to photographers to have copyright protection.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 1250, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

My fellow ASMP members didn’t give me a group hug like I would experience as an amateur on Flickr. It felt like they took the legs out from under me and they did. They were carrying them just like you see in this photo. They helped me by challenging me on my low prices. How are you making a living on that price?

The one thing that really made me sad about the comments the poster made was “no matter the pay” he wasn’t going to be swayed to stop shooting. You see he is the type of new pro that needs ASMP.

His attitude of “no matter the pay” means he will accept just about any job because he loves to shoot. After all he said, “It’s in my blood and who I am.”

Through the years I along with my ASMP colleagues have helped countless photographers learn how to make a living and even a great living. One of those I took under my wing was a young lady who when I met her was a nanny and going to school full-time.

I had her assisting me and talking with her answering all her questions. She took on a client that had her traveling all over the state shooting travel magazine packages for the publication.
The magazine had traded out with hotels to keep costs down. So every town she went to there was a hotel she stayed in for free. So it appeared in many ways the magazine was thinking about her.

It was when we spent a few hours going over her expenses and what they were paying her she discovered she was making way below minimum wage.

It was when her car started to have mechanical issues that she realized she could get it fixed and continue doing the work. She wasn’t making enough to cover the true costs of owning a car.

This is when she realized that continuing with this magazine she wasn’t just making below minimum wage, she was paying them to shoot for them. YES!!! You heard me clearly.

Her mother rented her a car so she could go and do the assignment, but the assignment didn’t pay enough to cover the rental car fees and all the other costs associated with doing the work.

Today that young woman is not only doing better she is doing great. She not only is making a good living she has a staff working for her of more than three people.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 1100, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

ASMP members know that the photographers who do not understand business principles are not only going to go broke they leave the industry worst off. Now those clients think that the rates they were paying to those failed photographers was reasonable. We need you equally lifting up the industry just as these guys are doing in carrying the log. They cannot do it alone.

Turning pro from amateur status is when you start to have adult conversations. This is when you will not like everything you are hearing from a seasoned pro who is really trying to help you out, but you see it as them trying to get rid of you.

Young photographers can learn something from professional bull riders. They started out on riding young calves before graduating to bullocks and then bulls. Between the ages of four and six they hone their skills by “mutton busting” on sheep. You see bull riding is thought to be one of the most dangerous sports in the world. An estimated one in every 15 bull rides ends in some sort of injury.

I can tell you that many pro photographers feel like one in every 15 assignments ends up in some sort of injury. We like to call that scar tissue which builds wisdom.

I recommend joining ASMP and/or NPPA that has in the last few years changed to help freelancers even more with business practices than when I joined in 1985.

Nikon D3S, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 1600, ƒ/6.3, 1/320

Remember when you turn pro you are expected to have great photos so don't go looking for a group hug like you got as an amateur.

In military training young men come together with a very diverse mix of our american landscape. Those differences melt away through their training which pushes their limits to each person realizing that those strangers they met on day one are their along side them even willing to die for them.

You will see if you look hard enough seasoned pros taking on a lot of fire and struggling to stay alive. ASMP members know that each of us has gone through our training of at least three years. We know we are all battle tested and helping one another.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Orlando Massacre's Silver Lining

Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX, ISO 100, ƒ/14, 2 sec
James 3:16-18 The Message (MSG)

Live Well, Live Wisely
13-16 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.

Waking up Sunday morning to the news of the Orlando massacre where one man took the lives of 50 people and injured another 53 people was gut wrenching.

Today our country is more divided to me than at any other time in my lifetime. Seems like every group is saying if you just think like us all will be well.

One of the most difficult things I have wrestled with in my faith is the concept of Free Will and at the same time having a God who is totally omniscience. If God actually knows everything that can be known, then how can you have true Free Will?

If God allows for our Free Will how much should we allow each other to exercise Free Will?

I am reminded of Jesus' prayer for his disciples.
John 17:14-17 
14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth.
The Christian ideal is not freedom from work, but strength to do it; not freedom from temptation, but power to overcome it; not freedom from suffering, but joy in an abiding sense of the Father’s love; not absence from the world, but grace to make the world better for our presence; not holy lives driven from the world, and living apart from it, but holy lives spent in the world and leavening it.

I have been really sad for many years as I watch those who call themselves people of faith not showing grace or love, but rather condemnation and hate of those who do not hold to their beliefs.

I watched as political parties wrapped themselves with what they call faith, but what I saw as condemnation of those who didn't believe as they did.
John 13:35 The Message (MSG) 
34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
To me this is one of the most powerful scriptures in the Bible. It tells us how we are to live our lives. Jesus says this at the last supper and before his arrest and crucifixion. So many of us are just like Peter when he said to Jesus –
36 Simon Peter asked, “Master, just where are you going?”
Jesus answered, “You can’t now follow me where I’m going. You will follow later.”
37 “Master,” said Peter, “why can’t I follow now? I’ll lay down my life for you!”
38 “Really? You’ll lay down your life for me? The truth is that before the rooster crows, you’ll deny me three times.”
Our purpose here is to not talk about our faith as much as we are to live it. Living it is to show the love of God through our actions with others.

The power of true love is most profound with great loss. The actions of the lone gunman in Orlando Night Club were extremely severe. Each time our country has suffered such a loss the community responds. The stories after 9/11 were a great healing to our country.

Our response should be that no matter who you are–your life matters and you matter. Our community will always suffer when anyone dies. We suffer even more when that loss is due to violence such as in Orlando.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/250
This past memorial day we celebrated those who gave their lives through the armed forces that we can have the freedom for Free Will in our country. This is very personal for my family.

ON THE BEACH: The first wave of Marines takes cover behind the sand dunes on Saipan beach, during the World War II invasion of Marianas Islands. The soldier kneeling in the sand at far right is Carl Matthews of Texas; second from right is Wendal Nightingale of Skowhegan, Maine; standing is Lt. James Stanley Leary of North Carolina. Neither Nightingale nor Leary made it home from Saipan; both are still listed as missing in action. Time Life photo by U.S. Marine Sgt. James Burns
I think one of the hardest things our country is going through is for those who are new to the concept of being able to exercise their Free Will. This is because where many are from they were not able to enjoy such freedoms.

I am so thankful that I do not live in a Democracy but rather a Republic form of Government.

The chief characteristic and distinguishing feature of a Democracy is: Rule by Omnipotent Majority. In a Democracy, The Individual, and any group of Individuals composing any Minority, have no protection against the unlimited power of The Majority. It is a case of Majority-over-Man.

A Republic, on the other hand, has a very different purpose and an entirely different form, or system, of government. Its purpose is to control The Majority strictly, as well as all others among the people, primarily to protect The Individual’s God-given, unalienable rights and therefore for the protection of the rights of The Minority, of all minorities, and the liberties of people in general. The definition of a Republic is: a constitutionally limited government of the representative type, created by a written Constitution--adopted by the people and changeable (from its original meaning) by them only by its amendment--with its powers divided between three separate Branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Here the term "the people" means, of course, the electorate.

Let us remember the words of James Madison on the regard of the republican form of government:
"As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government (that of a Republic) presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another."
It takes more thought and purpose to create laws than it does to just react. We think of how the law we create will impact everyone. We want those laws to benefit all of us. We are careful not to create a law that singles out one person, because one day that person could be us. We must be a community that values each person's life.

The more I understand and study storytelling the more I see the importance of protecting the rights of people to make their own choices. I also see that for the main subject in a story to solve their own problem basically is not possible. They must have help. This is why my belief in God and community is at the core of a good story.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Nikon D5 capturing the 2nd state park of NC–Fort Macon

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 125, ƒ/8, 1/800
I enjoyed taking a little time during my vacation on Emerald Isle Beach to take in Fort Macon State Park. Loved using the Nikon D5 for this adventure with the Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4 DG OS Art Lens.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 102400, ƒ/8, 1/40
Why was the Nikon D5 so helpful verses my smartphone like everyone else was using? Try taking this photo with a phone or any camera. This is shot at ISO 102,400. This was small room off the big room.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 125, ƒ/8, 1/800
I enjoyed walking around reading the plaques helping me to learn more about the history of the fort.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 8000, ƒ/8, 1/100
There are 26 casemates in fort (including sally port). One of them was restored to show the enlisted quarters during the civil war. The fort held off the union soldiers for one month as the union organized an attack. In less than 11 hours the fort was over powered by the canons firing at the fort. 526 canons hit the fort before they surrendered.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 125, ƒ/8, 1/400
The dynamic range of the Nikon D5 was great. the wall of the Citadel portion of the fort was in shadow, but it held together just fine all the way to the highlights.

You can even see detail in the Sally Port which is in the deep shadow during the middle of the day sunshine.

Many years ago I had been to the fort and knew what to expect. I just carried one lens to capture everything that I needed.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 6400, ƒ/8, 1/100
While many people will prefer a smartphone these days to capture their trips I still enjoy the DSLR and especially the Nikon D5 to capture those moments so I can actually see them as my eye enjoyed them in person.

Monday, June 06, 2016

The Annual Family Photo at the beach

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/16, 1/250–2 Alienbee B1600s
It is that time of year for my families annual family photo at the beach. we based what we will wear on what most of us had in our closets–white shirts and blue jeans.

Now the ideal direction for the family to face for the lighting would have been 90º to their right. Couple problems with this choice. The background was busy with all the people on the beach and second the wind would be at their backs and blowing everyone's hair to the front.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/640
Here is the setup and my daughter video taping the event for her YouTube channel.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/16, 1/200
Here without the strobes firing you can see the strong shadows.

By just adding the strobes it really cleaned up the photo with the light on our faces.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/16, 1/200–2 Alienbee B1600s
Here I am with my two sisters and parents.

My recommendation is to be sure and use strobes when doing portraits on the beach. This helps clean up those harsh shadows.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Are you a Proactive or Reactive Volunteer?

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 36000, ƒ/8, 1/100

Last night I attended the ASMP Atlanta Chapter meeting where the executive director Tom Kennedy shared what is the status of the organization. He was here to listen to the members and what they are also seeing as a need for the organization.

When we asked the question, “What is the value proposition of ASMP?” is when we found that we didn’t have a very simple answer.

WIIIFM – We realize that one of the first things that most photographers are asking is “What Is In It For Me?”

This is a very common theme that every business and organization must realize. We are there to serve our audience/customer. The really hard thing for most volunteer organizations to grapple with is that those volunteering for the organization are also the audience.

We as volunteers are more prone to give of our time when we are getting something out of it.

In the FOCUS meeting last weekend Greg Thompson, director of corporate communications for Chick-fil-A, talked about this from the perspective of hiring new people to his team.



Greg listens for how long the person talks about what they want to get out of a job verses what they want to give of themselves. He went on to talk about Truett Cathy.

“When you focus on what other people need and want it is amazing how you get what you want.” –– Truett Cathy

I think while there may be some examples out there on how to truly be successful, I think for the most part that the way to truly be successful is actually counter intuitive and this is why it is so difficult for people.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 32000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100
As we were wrapping up the meeting Tom Kennedy talked about one of the most influential words he remembers shaping America when he was just ten years old from the inauguration of John F. Kennedy.
“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” –– John F. Kennedy

Ah Ha Moment for me


Last night the Ah Ha Moment for me was hearing people talking about how they wanted to help the organization and were volunteering. The moment it clicked was when someone offered to go to the area colleges and art schools to talk about ASMP.

You see I have been doing that for the past fifteen years or more. I have been speaking to colleges and art programs regularly about business practices.

I realized that many of my colleagues were having the same trouble with volunteering as they do with talking to clients about work. They are more than willing to help out and really would if asked, but that is the problem.

By the way when I am speaking to those groups I am representing ASMP. I am also representing every other group I am a member of like NPPA, Roswell Presbyterian Church, Atlanta Press Club and many other hats I wear. You see ASMP is doing a great deal. Just see what our members are already doing.

We as members are acting on behalf of the organization informally all the time. This is how new members will decide to join or not based on how they see us conduct ourselves. Many people join organizations because they are impressed with the members or they stay away saying they are just hypocrites.

Now I am not sure we see that when we ask a client if there is anything we can do to help we are often creating another problem. Sure there are times that if you have a good relationship already with a client that they may be able to tell you something, but the reality is most of the time they would have to stop and think about their needs and then think about your abilities.

It is the same thing as someone coming to your house offering to help you. Often they would be embarrassed to let you see the inside of their house and then for them to know how YOU can help.


Possible Solution


Lets take a problem situation like a family has just had a loved one seriously hurt in some accident and they are now in the hospital. Calling the family and saying is there anything I can do is not as effective as offering them some specific services that you can do for them.

Here are some ideas:

  • Can I bring you a meal today?
  • Can I go by your house and handle some things for you?
    • Cut their grass
    • Get their mail
    • Check on their pets
    • Pick up some clothes for you
  • Your children can stay at my house and I can get them off to school for you – can I do that for you?
When someone is in a very stressful time for them to stop and think of things you can do for them isn't easy to do. This is where those who are truly service oriented thrive and rise to the top.

Be proactive and not reactive. While you think that asking if there is anything you can do is proactive, it is really fishing for something that you can be reactive.

Volunteer Suggestions


I think I will be taking my own advice and reaching out to Tom Kennedy with some things I can offer to do for the organization.
  • Hey Tom I would like to volunteer by writing some blog posts and willing to coordinate getting others to write some posts as well. Would this be something you could use?
  • Tom I have been going to area colleges and speaking on Business Practices and could video tape one of my presentations or share my powerpoint if that could help others do that around the country.
  • Tom I would love to create a multimedia package on some of our Atlanta chapter members who are great success stories on how they are helping clients reach their goals.
I think it is easier for the organization to react to my proactive actions than me asking what can I do for the organization.

By the way I think all this proactive conversation about helping your associations you might be a member also works for how to get more jobs.