Worn thin

Marketing is tough, that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone right, but we always seem to think it shouldn’t be this hard. Lately I have been doing a lot of marketing for a business I am working with and it has involved a lot of “hitting the pavement”.

I don’t have a degree in marketing but I rather enjoy it. I’m an outgoing person so I love to meet with people, talk to them about what their needs are and what their situation is, then look into my tool bag of things I can offer and work with them to meet those needs. The thing is, not everyone thinks they have needs, or cares to have you help them meet those needs. Many times I find myself asking the question, “what is the point of going to this place when I know they will just shoot me down” but then out of the blue I get passed on to someone who isn’t the front office receptionist and I’m “in”.

Knowing what tools you have in your tool box and what services you are capable of offering will make marketing really simple. David Duchemin in his book “Vision Mongers” talks about sitting down and outlining what you are able to offer before you meet with a potential client so that you know exactly what services you can provide. This will keep you from accepting a project that you have no way to deliver on. There is nothing worse than not being able to fulfill on a commitment you have made. This will also open the door for negative marketing through word of mouth or even an internet post that could hurt you for further jobs, so know what you can and can’t do and then market accordingly.

It is a great feeling when you can connect with someone, but I think for every time I have gotten past that front “fence” if you will, I have had three times as many people politely telling me they weren’t interested. But it’s something that must be done.

Photography is my passion and I can take pictures all day long, but if I don’t put the camera down and do some marketing then I’m just taking pictures for myself. That doesn’t make me any money, nor honestly is it as satisfying as taking pictures for someone else. Really I love serving people through photography and providing the images they are seeking.

Church photography – somewhere between portraits and photojournalism

guitar pedal boardRecently I was asked to do some photography for my local church who is putting together a new church directory. Church directories are kinda like High School yearbooks, most of the time they are a mix of candid/action shots and then you have pages of the portraits. Being a photojournalist I am much more excited about the candid and fun shots.

I have been spending the past few days capturing shots from the various activities that go on within the church, and I have learned that it has been quite enjoyable yet challenging at the same time. I went in thinking photojournalistically (that’s not a real word I know, but it sure sounds good) and was surprised to find that the people I was photographing, especially the kids, would many times stop everything they were doing just to get their picture taken. Although really fun, this destroys the “story” that you are putting together as a photojournalist.

I don’t have much experience in doing just plain portraits. I look at it and I see the art and the style behind it, but as I was just discussing with a mentor yesterday, it’s a whole different skill set and art than photojournalism. The technique is different, the story is different, the composition is different, so how do I get the photojournalistic shots when everyone wants their picture taken, don’t they know they are ruining my story?

So on the fly I’m having to adjust my story. I’m capturing now a great mix of action shots with some classic still life/portraiture shots. I am really excited for how the shots have come out and I have learned a lot through the process.

Sometimes it’s easy to get focused on the task at hand, or in this case the story we are trying to tell. I remember one time while I was still living in Russia, we were out on a photo shoot in Siberia and the story we thought that we were going to get was simply not coming together. We sat together one night in our hotel room and started to see how we needed to change the story to fit the material that we were getting. That was the case here, and it is the case in so many situations in life. The images we thought we would have just don’t come and we have to adjust on the fly to make it work.

Isn’t that a testament to a good photographer though, being flexible and well rounded so that the project still comes together?

When everything’s uprooted

If you have been following these posts, you know that the past 6 months of my life have been pretty crazy. Even more so the past month, I have moved to a new state, a new city, started a new job, got my hours cut at that new job, and have been looking for another job since then.

So the other day I had some time to go hiking in one of the nearby nature parks, it was a beautiful day, the sun was out, the snow was melting, it was quiet and I was able to just walk and snap a few shots.

I came across this tree that had fallen and been completely uprooted. I hiked up to it as it was slightly off the path. I took some time to study it, to think about it and what happened to bring it to this point. I looked at the cut end of the stump and just marveled at the number of rings that were there. I can’t even begin to contemplate the history that each ring represents. Each one a growth year, each one containing events from a time now passed.

I wonder what my life will look like when people exam the “rings”? Right now I have such an opportunity to trust God with everything, job, wedding, finances, rent, health… despite being uprooted. I know that He is moving me and I am being replanted into a new soil.

I’m so excited about all the changes and ready to continue to embrace the future that God has for me here.

the beauty of a late snowthe beauty of a late snow

This past weekend we got blasted by a snow storm that had worked it’s way across America leaving behind large amounts of what I like to think of as a beautiful winter landscape.

I was surprised when I heard that we were supposed to get between 6 inches and a foot of snow overnight here in Wake Forest. When I woke up Saturday morning and it was still snowing I was so captivated by the beauty. I have honestly missed this since returning to America. While in Russia, this was the scene for so many days out of the year. After having been there for a few years, I had just come to feel comfortable in it.

So as I sat observing taking in this God given gift of creation, I suited up, grabbed my camera and headed out.

A short walk from where I live there is a wooded area that leads off from the road. I began my trek into the woods knowing that the further I got the more beautiful it would become.

I was captivated at every glance as I just marveled at the Creator of all of this. I don’t think I realize how small I am often enough, but Saturday as I ventured out I was sure reminded of it.

Photographing winter scenes is one of my favorite things to do. It can be a challenge as there isn’t always the bank of colors that you get in say spring or fall, but I love the images that come out of properly exposed images shot across the landscape of white and brown. I was fortunate to come across a small stream that was half frozen. This proved to give me some beautiful shots as well adding another dynamic to the two tone scenes.

After snapping off a few frames I realized it was time to put my camera away and just enjoy the view. I don’t do that often as my passion is to definitely capture the beauty I am seeing with my eyes, but there are so times that it is just a moment that I like to set aside for God and worship him in silence.

I walked around in the freezing temps and snow falling for another 3 hours or so before finding an open store to head into to try and warm up before making the long walk home.

We all need to take these times to enjoy God’s creation and know that we are so blessed to be able to observe His beauty and in some cases to capture that beauty in a moment forever through photography.

back to writing

It’s been a while since I have done any writing, to be honest, I miss it. I miss being able to bring my thoughts together, pull them out of my head and share them with you (the reader).

Two weeks ago everything in my life changed, I packed up everything I owned and moved to another state. The move was brought about by future plans for going to graduate school as well as being offered a great paying job. After I got settled into my new apartment I went to my new place of work to report for my first day. It was on this day that I found out the job I had moved here for was not going to work out. Due to a lack of business though they could no longer afford to keep me on staff. I was given two weeks of full time pay to begin looking for other work.

This was quite a shock for me, I just spent a lot of money to move to a new place where I didn’t really know anyone and now to find out that the job I thought I had wasn’t going to work out in the end. My first question, “now what?”

I spent the first few days really distressed about all of this. I felt like I was running around all day long but going nowhere. I didn’t even know where to begin when it came to finding a job in this area. I began doing everything I could, talking to everyone I knew, asking them to talk to everyone they knew, and so forth. I began to take “networking” to the next level. Where did this all get me? Still no job.

One day as I was sitting at the table trying to figure out what in the world I was supposed to be doing, I realized that I had not been spending time in God’s word, nor in prayer. This was foundational, what was I thinking?

David wrote in Psalm 119:9, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” He later writes in v11, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

These things shouldn’t come to me as such a shock yet I found myself greatly distressed and realizing that I was not grounding myself in Him. As I quieted myself before the Lord, I allow Him to set the agenda for my days, I allowed Him to change the way that I was viewing this loss of a job and the ensuing circumstances.

I still don’t have a job, but I know that God is in control, I know that He is leading me, I know that daily He will provide.

Traveling

Over the past 6 months that I have been back in the states, I have been traveling a lot. I feel like I’m in a whirlwind of constantly going here and there. I have gotten to see some beautiful parts of the country from Texas to Nebraska to North Carolina and Tennessee.

One thing that I have learned about traveling like this is to always have your camera close by. You never know when something is going to come into your field of vision that you want to capture.

I have been spending a lot of time recently working with my camera and learning how to always be ready to take a picture and have it capture the true beauty of what I’m seeing. I spend time reading blogs and articles about photography and technique, but nothing can take the place of the need to just be out with your camera and taking pictures.

I shot this picture as I was driving with my fiance’s family from Nebraska down to Texas.

Photographing what you like

I have always heard it said that you will get the best photographs when you are photographing something that you really like. I find that in my photography, when I am capturing images of things that I like, or am interested in, I am far more captivated and enthralled with my time.

When photographing your interests, you will find that a simple photo shoot will be enjoyable and exciting, and not only that you will be far more satisfied with your images.

All of that being said, I have been in the process of identifying what my interests are. This involves taking a lot of pictures of many different things, and sitting down, as you go through your images identifying which you like better. It involves exploring the depths of your talent and challenging yourself to see new and different points of view.

This past week, I was able to go down to southern Texas and capture some images at Canyon Lake. This time of year southern Texas is beautiful. I would never have thought of myself as the kind of person who would “like” southern Texas, but I must confess, I really enjoyed my time there.

I’m learning what my style is and what things I really like to photograph and I am finding that as I photograph the things I really like, I am far more interested in the post processing, as well as the results of the final product.