How to capture an Awards Show – Hint it doesn’t involve your phone

Ramone Nelson from Heritage High School won best actor for his portrayal of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables at the Shuler Hensley Awards 2017 at the Cobb Energy Center on April 20, 2017. [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.4, 1/160]
Last night we were part of the “LIVE TV AUDIENCE” at the 2017 Shuler Hensley Awards Show which is for Georgia High School Musical Theatre.

We were blown away by the performance of Heritage High School’s Les Miserables.

Most of the other families were not getting these photos because their Smart Phones just do not get well exposed photos from far away. When they crop in the photos start to follow apart because the resolution of the photo is dropping. Next it is difficult for them to set the white balance and control the exposure. Now the very best they can do if they really know what they are doing is get good exposed photos. However they cannot see  or recognize their kid because the phone’s lens couldn’t reach them.

Heritage High School won the Overall Production Award for “Les Miserables” at the Shuler Hensley Awards. [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.2, 1/400]
I use the Fuji X-E2 coupled with the Fuji 55-20mm. Here is the latest versions of that camera if you want to buy it.


I receive a commission from any purchases made using the affiliate link. This is at no additional cost to you.

We started the evening with the Red Carpet where our daughter Chelle and her friend Camile came in together.

Shuler Hensley Awards [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 1250, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250]
I was photographing this event like every other parent there with a camera.

Our daughter and Joe Pitts from her high school were chosen by the school to represent them in the ensemble which performed the opening number and the closing.

Joe Pitts from Roswell High School is on the far right with the puppet during the Shuler Hensley Awards. [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/250]
I shot with my Fuji X-E2 because I wanted a quiet camera while in the audience. It did a great job.

My daughter far right with Shuler Hensley center during the opening ensemble number of the Shuler Hensley Awards. [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/300]
I chose to shoot the performance on tungsten white balance setting. This way as the light color changed it would look like the audience saw it rather than the auto white balance trying to correct it.

Shuler Hensley Awards [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 4000 ƒ/4.8, 1/400]
Don’t rely on your phone to take the photos of everything you want to preserve for your family memories. Buy a camera that is designed for theater, sports or something else you need to capture.


Travel photography tips for your next vacation

Lisbon, Portugal [Nikon D4, Nikon 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 800, ƒ/9, 1.3 – On Tripod]
For me the second most fun thing to do other than traveling the world and meeting new people is having photos to share with others about my travels.

I hope you are making some vacation plans for your summer. Here are some tips for you to capture your vacation and keep them for the years to come to help you remember your travel and also to share with others.

Which Camera?

Here are three solutions I recommend: 1) The Point & Shoot; 2) The Mirrorless Camera; & 3) The DSLR

The Point & Shoot
Me shooting the Nikon P7000. It comes with a versatile 28-200mm lens ranges wide to capture landscapes, zooms in to get close to the action. ISO up to 6400 and 5-way VR Image Stabilization System.

This is the newest version the Nikon P7800. Click on image to buy. This link takes you to Amazon and I get percentage of sale. You pay the same price.


Now the advantage of a point and shoot is size.

The Mirrorless Camera
This is my mirrorless travel kit. Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses.

This is the newest version the Fuji X-E2s. Click on image to buy. This link takes you to Amazon and I get percentage of sale. You pay the same price.



Nikon D750

I recommend the Nikon D750 with the Nikon 28-300mm as a small kit that will let you capture just about anything. Also many prefer the Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/4 since it is a fixed aperture.

What to look for in all three cameras:

  1. High ISO of at least ISO 6400 or higher
  2. If only one lens then I recommend zoom that covers 28-200mm range.
  3. Buy extra batteries
  4. Buy multiple Memory Cards
Use two hands to stabilize the camera

Now the Fuji X-E2 and the Nikon D750 both had wifi that let me upload to my phone using their Apps and then to post immediately to my social media. Very cool!

Keep your camera steady

When taking photos the #1 problem is motion blur. Hold the camera still and SQUEEZE the shutter release. Don’t punch it.

Sometimes when I am really excited to be somewhere I will take my shutter speed and crank it up to be sure my photos are sharp and not blurry from camera motion. The rule is your shutter speed should be at least the the fraction of second of the lens’ focal length.

When I am excited I will use a faster shutter speed of 1/250 or 1/500 to avoid motion blur.

Talk to people

James Dockery is talking to lady on the streets in Portugal on our Storytellers Abroad Workshop

Don’t stand across the street with the longest lens you have and take pictures of people on the other side of the street. Do go up and introduce yourself. Tell them why you want to take their photo. I just love your outfit. I really like the things you are selling.

Lisbon Mission Storytelling Abroad Workshop. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.6, 1/800]
While taking portraits of people are great, be sure to back up as well and take over all shots to help capture the place you traveled so far to go and see.

Lisbon Mission Storytelling Abroad Workshop [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/11, 1/500]
Notice my shutter speeds are a little higher than maybe necessary. I was just grabbing shots and didn’t want them to be unusable due to camera movement.

Lisbon Mission Storytelling Abroad Workshop [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/80]
Also get super close. Take photos of the food you are eating and how it is served. There are traditions that are different from where you grew up.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/300]
Don’t forget to capture things like the jewelry that is sold in the market as well as a closeup.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/500]
Be careful when you get super close. Your Depth-of-field will shrink. So the part of the photo that is in focus from front to back will get so shallow at an aperture of ƒ/1.4 it can look out of focus. Here I shot the flower at ƒ/5.6. I could have easily shot at ƒ/11 and the background would have still been out of focus.

Carry extra batteries

Carry Extra memory cards

Carry them with you during the day

Every night be sure to recharge your camera batteries. Each morning be sure to remember to pack the extra batteries and memory cards in some small case you can put in a pocket or a backpack.

Carry Pocket Size Moleskin Notebook

Get a good notebook. Mine stands up really well to living in my pocket for a few weeks, no matter what I might be doing.

Carry a good pen

The pen must write with a very high level of reliability on the pocket notebooks that I use. “Dud” pens aren’t acceptable, nor are pens that sometimes choose to write only at a certain angle. These pens need to be faithful and reliable, always writing when I pull one out to jot down a note.

I write down things like the location where I have been during the day. If I talk to someone then I write their name down. Sometimes I get business cards and stick them in the notebook.

This is the screen shot of my software PhotoMechanic that I use to embed the text into each photo.

My workflow maybe quite different than yours, but I take time to be sure I put in the IPTC the location as well as some caption information so I can share this when I post a photo on social media and it also helps me remind me where I have been and seen.

Book Cover – Buy the book on

Shoot for a coffee table book

While you may not do one every time having something in mind will help you capture more variety.

Check out the link on the book above. You can see a preview of the book without purchasing online. Here is a blog post on producing a book I wrote earlier.

You can see how I combined some text with the photos to help me remember all we saw.

These are just some of the tips and while there are many other things to share about shooting, I hope this gets you started and excited about your travel plans this summer.

Photographer’s Monday Devotional: Called to serve

This is a Christian cross at the volcano at Masaya which is a caldera located in Masaya, Nicaragua, 20 km south of the capital Managua. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 4500, ƒ/4, 1/100]
This past week Christians around the world celebrated Easter. A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ and his teachings.

I have been reflecting on how my faith is impacting how I live.

This is a shepherd boy in Soubakamedougou, Burkina Faso, West Africa. [Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-125mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/125]
What I have been thinking about is how Jesus came to earth and taught us how to live and did so by teaching us to deal with the most difficult of situations.

Matthew 5:38-48

Eye for Eye
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[b] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The time that Jesus was here on earth the Jews were under the rule of the Romans and treated much like slaves. Jesus also didn’t come as a warrior and take on the Romans. He used the opportunity to teach us how to live under the rule of others.

Most of us really are not in positions of authority over others. After now having run my own business for more than fifteen years I am more aware of this than ever. I am very much like a servant to my clients.

These verses in Matthew 5:38-48 remind me of how Jesus was teaching us the power of serving in the midst of being mistreated.

Women carry their wares into market in the bush village of Sabtenga, Burkina Faso, West Africa. [Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/1000]

Luke 11:46

Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

Jesus also talked to those in positions of power and pointed out how they create burdens for people and yet do nothing to help them. 

What I find interesting in the scripture is that Jesus appeals to each person’s heart to do the right thing and doesn’t use the power play to change them.

A little boy in Nicaragua. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 560, ƒ/4, 1/100]
I am thankful for my faith. I am thankful for having Jesus Christ as a teacher. As I read the scriptures I realize that these are not stories of way back when, but rather examples that help me live today.

No matter how much I am struggling due to others I still must take on these burdens with love. It is only through our love of those who persecute us do we truly live out the Christian faith.

Man with his son and horse in the downtown of San Benito, Nicaragua. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 200, ƒ/9, 1/100]
I often feel like this man on his cart being pulled by a horse that is surrounded by cars. I feel the burden of trying to live with so little often while it appears those around me are in such luxury.

Family photo taken while on vacation in 2002 at Sawgrass Resort in Ponte Vedra, Florida. [Nikon D100, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/180]
Then I am reminded of what a wonderful family I have and the vacations we have taken.

Got $2200? In this world, you’re rich. Assets (not cash) of $2200 per adult place a person in the top 50% of the world’s wealthiest.

If you have sufficient food, decent clothes, live in a house or apartment, and have a reasonably reliable means of transportation, you are among the top 15% of the world’s wealthy.

If you earn $25,000 or more annually, you are in the top 10% of the world’s income-earners.

If you earn more than $50,000 annually, you are in the top 1% of the world’s income earners.

What is really cool about Jesus is he taught us how to live no matter our status. His instructions if we choose to obey them will change our lives from the inside out rather than from the outside in.

Here are couple verses about obedience to Christ teachings for the Christian:

Romans 2:6-8

6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

John 14:15

15 “If you love me, keep my commands.

A woman in prayer in Togo, West Africa. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 8000, ƒ/4, 1/100]

Romans 8:26

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

We have been given Jesus as an example of how to live within this world. He showed us how to pray, because I think he understood how this life we live is so complicated that we need God to navigate it each day.

Jesus taught us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” and the only way to do this is in my opinion through a lot of prayer.

J. K. Rowling wrote in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.”

Long before the writings of J. K. Rowling was the Gospel writer Mark writing to Christians who said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”


Learn to say “YES”

This is Mark Johnson’s Advanced Photojournalism Class at UGA’s Grady School of Journalism. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/80]
For the past ten years or so Mark Johnson has invited me to speak to his advanced Photojournalism Class at UGA on business practices.

One of the tips I always share with the class is Learn To Say YES.

I learned about how to say yes from my friend Tony Messano who is a creative director as well as voice over talent. This one tip had a major impact on my life in so many ways.

Tony was not advocating becoming a “Yes Man” where you are agreeing to “anything” regardless of how crazy or stupid – and sometimes illegal – it is. You still will say no to things that ethically you disagree with doing.

Patrick Murphy-Racey keeps things positive for his clients by solving their problems rather than becoming a problem. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/160]
Tony was advocating that we turn ourselves into problem solvers for our clients and bosses, rather than becoming a problem.

The way this whole topic came up in the first place with Tony was over me trying to deal with clients that kept on saying since you are here can you do _______. Tony helped me to see how to take this request and not only meet the request but make more money.

I learned how to price for the project and then when this type of request came up I could say “Yes”. Yes I can make that happen, however since this wasn’t part of the proposal and is outside the scope of it I just need to charge XYZ for the additional work.

The way I had been handling these requests or similar variations for my whole life up to then was responding with a “NO”.

What Tony helped me to understand was that when I was saying no I wasn’t really helping the client at all. If they still needed it done then they would find someone who could make it happen and often then I would no longer be used for future projects.

Why do I want to say no?

Before I could say yes I learned I needed to know why I wanted to say no.

When I was in a staff job I often said no because I didn’t have time with all the other things on my plate. As a freelancer I was saying no because they were asking for more without offering more pay.

Had I learned this tip earlier in my career I would have become a more valuable team member. When someone would ask me to do something I would now be saying how I really want to help them. I would be saying YES–IF.

Yes I can make that happen for you if you can tell me which of these other projects I can delay or not do to be able to take on this extra work.

As a freelancer I am saying YES–IF you decide what on the list we were shooting comes off because I don’t have time to do all you have or I might be saying yes if you agree to the extra XYZ cost.

On the far right at the computer is Akili Ramsess, executive director for NPPA, who is reviewing the work on a student at the Southwestern Photojournalism Student Workshop. What I like here is not just that Akili is helping and the student is engaged, but it reminds me that others are watching us help.

Let the client say NO

Tony said my goal is to say yes as much as I can and to be sure the client is the one saying no and not me.

As the freelancer the client asks me to do something and my response is I would love to help you. The additional cost to make this happen is XYZ. Just sign right here to the changes on the contract and I will make it happen.

The client will then respond by great or no we cannot afford to do that. If they really have to have this done then you are not the reason it gets done, they don’t have the resources to make it happen or maybe the request then no longer important.

As a staff person I am not asking for more money. I am basically taking the burden of what is on my plate and the difficulties to make it happen back onto their plate.

My boss asks me to take photos of their event and in the past I would have said no I am already booked. I now say I am already covering another event at the same time. I am more than willing to cover this event if you need me to. Which event do you want me to cover and would you like me to get another photographer to cover the event I cannot cover?

Seeing this photo of my daughter with Bell from Beauty and the Beast reminds me of how the Beast had to change and learn to love. The latest movie really gives us the back story of how self centered the man was and why he was turned into a Beast. He said no to the old lady rather than helping her.

Saying No makes you a problem–Saying Yes Makes you a problem solver.

Every time you say no the person requesting your help will now have to find someone else. Had you said yes their problem is solved.

Today when I get a request for something and I am already booked, I always offer to find someone for them. One of the best ways to keep those clients coming back is to handle the booking of the photographer and have the photographer work as a subcontractor for you. This way they show up shoot the project and you handle the billing. This way they continue to come back to you.

Another tip I share with the students is about how to network. I tell them to act like a freshman and not a senior. Here is a previous blog post that I did explaining this tip for you.


A side note about speaking to the class is I get to spend time with Mark Johnson. Every time I go I have lunch with Mark and each time I learn so much.

This time I listened and watched how Mark works really hard to present content to the students in a positive manner. He doesn’t speak down to the students. He challenges them in a way that he is also communicating that he know they are able to do whatever he is asking of them.

It is a joy to visit UGA and spend time with the students and Mark.

Touching Moment vs Decisive Moment

Inside the Artic Circle, 1967: Eskimo child chasing ball. [photo by: Don Rutledge]
What a moment this is of a little boy playing with a ball. No matter where you are from in the world this captures a moment of joy that we all experienced playing ball.

“Photography is not like painting,” Henry Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post in 1957. “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative,” he said. “Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”

Cartier-Bresson published a book in 1952 called The Decisive Moment. In the preface he quoted Cardinal de Retz, “Il n’y a rien dans ce monde qui n’ait un moment decisif” [“There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment”].

Shortly after coming to the Home Mission Board, Don spent six weeks photographing inside the Artic Circle, Alaska in 1967. This photo was taken as Don, with two volunteer workers, visited an Eskimo house. So happy was the family to see their friends, everyone ignored Don’s click-click-click. {photo by: Don Rutledge]

Now if you have studied photography you will know all about Henry Cartier-Bresson and The Decisive Moment. If you haven’t then you most likely will have no clue as to what it is all about.

Today I was hit with this problem that when we as photographers start talking to our clients in our terms rather than their terms we will not only lose them, but often create a divide between us.

The Citadel Recognition Weekend in Charleston, SC. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 | Sport, Sigma TC-2001, ISO 3200, ƒ/8, 1/4000]
When talking to the public about capturing a “Decisive Moment” I think we should be saying we are about capturing a “Touching Moment”.

You will hear people say “What a Touching Moment” more than you will ever hear them say what a “Decisive Moment”. if you Google the two you will see what I am talking about.

Philip Newberry, who has no hands or feet from meningitis, with Matilda, a neighbor’s cat. [photo by: Stanley Leary]
The Decisive Moment search yields all the stuff about photography and the Touching Moment will turn up photos and videos about emotional moments.

While the Decisive Moment is more than just a Touching Moment you still end up taking time to educate your audience about what you are talking about and in the same moment never really give it the justice it needs.

Father Flor Maria Rigoni is a missionary with the San Carlos Scalabrini and works in the town of Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico.

I am only suggesting to use “Touching Moments” as something the average person understands more than trying to educate them on what I call a “photographic term”.

I am often guilty of digging in my heals and trying to explain my position. If you want to win people over learn their perspective and talk about your position from their perspective and not yours.

Freelancer’s Anxiety–Using Faith to Cope

A little girl lost in her thoughts while in her families corn field in Togo, West Africa. [Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/2000]
There are a few things that produce such anxiety in my life that physically affect me. Going to the dentist for more than a cleaning produces high anxiety in my life.

My blood pressure rises and my heart rate increases.

This anxiety response isn’t limited to my fear of a dental procedure. My friend Brad Moore posted this just the other day on FaceBook:

The responses Brad received let him know not only did we all suffer from this, some people gave them their solutions on how they have learned to deal with worrying.

This young teenager’s expression seems to convey some anxiety. I photographed him in Togo, West Africa. [Nikon D5, 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/250]
When I was studying social work we had to be trained in how to help people with their worries and anxiety. We learned to unpack those thoughts creating an anxiety. Worrying about something can help motivate you to do something whereas anxiety can shut you down.

Let me talk a little more about Anxiety and then get back to worrying.

During this training I learned about two types of anxiety producing thoughts. There are first those things that we have control over and then there are those things we have no control over.

When you let those things you have no control over take control of your thoughts they can freeze you and send you into anxiety produced depression. If you find you have no desire to be motivated then you need to see a clinical counselor like a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist.

You could be in this situation not due to how you are thinking but because your genetics and the way your body chemistry is setup. You can be very depressed just because your chemicals in your body are out of balance. There is medication that under medical supervision that can bring you out of that deep depression.

Learning that I need to categorize something as in my control or out of my control helped me more than anything else I learned in the lesson. Once I could determine something is out of my control I knew that no matter how long we ponder it we are not going to do anything but waste our time.

However, there are things we can do for some things that cause us to worry.

One of my lighting cases. This one is for my Alienbees B1600s with vagabond power packs to let me shoot anywhere with our without power.

One of the ways I addressed my worries was to create separate cases for my lighting gear needs. I have a case for video LED lights, another case with my Speedlights, stands and umbrellas and then this one pictured here for when I need a lot of power and might not have power available.

I still have two other cases which allow me to bring larger number of lights for those big jobs.

Interior of my Airport Security™ V 2.0 Rolling Camera Bag fully packed.

Worrying about my gear isn’t the only anxiety freelancers deal with on a regular basis.

Remember there are things out of your control and these are the things that often still keep me up at night.

When these thoughts start affecting our bodies like my time in the dentist chair this can be anxiety producing, which can be debilitating. Anxiety is more like a hamster wheel that spins us around but doesn’t lead us to productive solutions.

Worry and Anxiety come with living

My personal experience has taught me that I will never get rid of worrying and anxiety. Even these tips are not enough. Life can be just overwhelming at times.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
–– Matthew 6:34

I turn to my faith as my way of navigating these times of stress. While scripture tells us not to worry it also has the Lamentations.

A Lament in The Book of Lamentations or in the Psalms may be looked at as a cry of need in a context of crisis. Another way of looking at it is all the more basic: laments simply being “appeals for divine help in distress”.

These laments, too, often have a set format: an address to God, description of the suffering/anguish which one seeks relief, a petition for help and deliverance, a curse towards one’s enemies, an expression of the belief of ones innocence or a confession of the lack thereof, a vow corresponding to an expected divine response, and lastly, a song of thanksgiving.

I struggled with fear and worry for years. But through time, I began to find that the things that once would have sent me down an anxious spiral, no longer had the same effect. It didn’t happen quickly, but over days, months, years.

I read words – of life – of truth. Soaking them in, over and over, praying them out loud. Until they became so familiar, they replaced the other things in my mind that I’d battled against. There’s nothing magical about words and verses, but there is power through them.

Togo, West Africa [Nikon D5, 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/200]

“My God, My God, Why?” –Psalms 22:1

I see the laments as a time where we complain to God about something that just isn’t right in our eyes. We then go on and make a request from God.

What I want to emphasize here is that the writers of all the laments then go to the next step in their lament where they give an expression of trust. This often is in the form of God in the past you did this. I know from my experience you do intervene. It is the remembrance of how God has taken care of them in the past and they are asking for his deliverance from what they are suffering from now.

A Biblical lament, then, is an honest cry to a God who is powerful, good, and just. It’s a cry that expects an answer from God, and therefore results in hope, trust, and joy rather than despair.

What happens when I pray a lament?

I have had many sinus infections through my life and this painful disgusting condition is how I feel before I pray. While not always immediate is the response, I do know that the answer to my prayer is like being able to breath again.

The anxiety that froze me and kept me paralyzed is gone. I now am in a state of worry with hope. I am then able to think about what can I do that I do have control over.

So on those nights I cannot sleep because I wonder where my next check will come from, I am able to get out of bed and start writing emails. These emails maybe pitching ideas to clients and potential customers or something else that I haven’t done before.

Once I have written those emails I am now able to go to bed and sleep.

I believe it is God who helped me get unstuck and even possibly some ideas.


Stanley’s Stages of Freelancer’s Anxiety

  1. Feeling of being overwhelmed which leads to anxiety that depresses me
  2. Making list of what I can do and what I have no control over
  3. Take action on what I can do

While these three things sometimes work, more than often this is really what is happening

  1. Anxious thoughts which paralyzes me
  2. Depression due to realizing how much of this is due to my past decisions putting me in this situation. [Beating myself up stage]
  3. Tears begin to flow that I have no way out of this situation.
  4. Brought to my knees in prayer where I am often yelling at God
  5. Slowly I am able to tell God what the problem is about
  6. Asking God to take action
  7. I remember how God has helped me before. This reminds me to trust that God will help me again
  8. While the problem doesn’t go away God has helped me become un-paralyzed.
  9. I am able to think of some things I can do to take action
  10. I realize I have done all that I can think of doing
  11. I am able to relax and have hope. Often because this happens in the night I am able to finally go to sleep.

A little girl jumping rope with her friends inTogo, West Africa. [Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/2500]
I suggest reading the book of Lamentations in the Bible. Here are five ways it can help you.

  1. They help you express our feelings in honest and healthy ways.
  2. They help shape your feelings, helping us interpret them in light of God’s redemptive plan for the entire world.
  3. They teach us more about ourselves by revealing our greatest need and how our minds and hearts influence our lives.
  4. They teach us more about God, his character and activity in us and the world.
  5. They reorient us to the truth of the gospel and how it transforms us from the inside out.

Shooting my daughter’s Senior Photo

Chelle Leary’s Senior Portrait [Nikon D5, 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/2000]

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive small percentage of sale. This helps cover my costs for blogging.

I did some senior pictures of my daughter this weekend for graduation announcements. Here is one of the photos and here is the lighting setup.

I put a strobe behind the bushes and added a CTO +1 to warm up the background.

Chelle Leary’s Senior Portrait [Nikon D5, 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/1250]
Now here is basically the same setup but without the CTO +1 gel on the background light.

Chelle Leary – Senior Portrait [Nikon D5, 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/2.2, 1/8000]
For this photo I wanted to use the blue sky to compliment the blue dress. I got down really low on the ground and shot up. Here is the lighting setup.

Chelle Leary – Senior Portrait [Nikon D5, 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/2500]
Here is another setup I did with Chelle for a different look.

One last photo. I took this to show Chelle in her prom gown, a replica of Hermione’s Yule Ball gown, in the blue as described in the book by J. K. Rowling.

Chelle Leary – Senior Portrait [Nikon D5, 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/2500]
Now I am letting the sun be the hair light, which most of the time is opposite the main light. The main light here are two Alienbees B1600s with translucent white umbrellas. One is over the other to create a strip lighting affect.

The trend today with senior portraits is to bring into the shoot those hobbies and passions of the senior. Chelle loves Harry Potter and we used the book and the dress as ways to personalize the photos so that it conveys what is important to her.

Now we also just picked a fun outfit that also communicates her style to others.

I prefer the outside to the studio. However I like the background to be out of focus and just creating a mood for senior photos.

Pocketwizards are used to shoot with High Speed Sync on Alienbees B1600

My lens for the photos Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8.
My Camera the Nikon D5
Pocketwizard TT5 & TT1 kit
Pocketwizard AC-3
Pocketwizard AC-9
Westcott 2001 43-Inch Optical White Satin Collapsible Umbrella
Alienbees B1600

When one photo is needed from an event

Chick-fil-A Dwarf House in Newnan is renovating, but while renovations are taking place there is a new shipping container restaurant for drive thru only service. [Nikon D5,AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/200]
This week I have had a few assignments that each one needed one main photo that would work with an extended caption.

While I shot hundreds of photos all around these locations it comes down to one main shot that if there was space for just one photo then I had to have one that summarized the event the best.

I like this first one for showing a brand new shipping container modified for temporary drive thru restaurant.

The Georgia Historical Society put a historical marker at the Original Hapeville Dwarf House. [Nikon D5,AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 1100, ƒ/16, 1/500]
On Tuesday there was a dedication ceremony where they unveiled the historical marker at the Original Dwarf House in Hapeville, GA. I arrived early and put my Nikon D5 with a 14-24mm lens on a monopod and hoisted it up high to capture this shot. The fire the shutter I just used the timer on the camera to trip the shutter release.

Now I had hundreds of photos of speakers and people gathered around the historical marker, but all of them didn’t make the simple statement that this photo does. There is a historical marker in front of the Dwarf House.

The key to finding the photo is knowing the storyline. Now you cannot tell the entire story, but can you come close. Just think of what the audience needs to see.

Vince Dooley, the chairman of the Georgia Historical society and advisory board member of the Chick-fil-A Foundation was one of the speakers. Being the famous UGA football coach I continued to think of fun captions for this photo where he is commenting on playing between the hedges. [Nikon D5,AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 320, ƒ/9, 1/500]

3 Settings for Sports Photography

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive small percentage of sale. This helps cover my costs for blogging.

Before you can snap a photo like this you need to first setup your camera to the proper settings.

3 Settings: Exposure, Focus, & Motor Drive


Cameras today let you automate the exposure settings, which will let you then concentrate on getting the moment.

You can put the camera into Manual mode where you pick the Aperture, Shutter Speed & ISO. What I want to tell you is why you want to pick certain settings.

You need a fast shutter speed to freeze the baseball or it will blur so much you can’t see it. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 1000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
First of all for the majority of all your sports photos it is important that you freeze the moment. I recommend shooting as fast as you can. I recommend 1/4000th of a second. Now there are lighting situations that will not let you get that fast, but the thing you need to remember that shooting as fast as possible is the priority.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, ISO 200, ƒ/2.8, 1/4 with off camera flash

Use a slow shutter speed only if you want to show the blur.

Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 720, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

Second choose a shallow depth-of-field to clean up the background by throwing it out of focus. Yes there are moments where you may want a lot of depth-of-field, but this is the norm for most sports photos.

Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

Third too many people are concerned about a high ISO giving a poor quality image. If you are shooting in daylight then this is really not a concern with cameras made in the last couple of years. Take a look at the baseball player. Note this was shot at ISO 1000.

What is important is a photo that is sharp and in focus more than if there is any noise in the image. You can live with noise more than you can live with out of focus or blurred images.

Last thing I recommend if you have it is to turn on the VR [Vibration Reduction] or often called OS [Optical Stabilization] which will help minimize the affects of your body movement on the image.


With today’s cameras you can get a lot more in focus cameras with auto focus than we could do by just using manual focus.

First set your camera to continuous auto focus rather than singular. This will keep the camera focusing as long as you are keeping the camera active. To do this the default setting for cameras is by pushing the shutter release half way down. This activates your focus, but doesn’t take the picture.

Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 1400, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

On many cameras they offer a second button that is on the back of the camera where your right thumb can push. You can go into your menu and separate the focusing from the shutter release. This way you just push the back button with your thumb and keep it held and follow the action. Then when you want to take a photo you press the shutter release with your index finger. This will increase the probability of in focus photos.

Now I highly recommend getting out your camera and studying the Auto Focus section. Each camera is different from all other cameras. This is true even if you own the same brand name.

Also search the internet by putting in your camera and look for videos where someone has already studied the camera and discovered the advantages of certain settings.

Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 4500, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

Motor Drive

You want to set the camera to take more than one photo when you press and squeeze the shutter release. I recommend going to the highest frame rate your camera will let you shoot.

Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 4000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

Learn to anticipate and push the button just milliseconds before the moment and hold the shutter to capture 2 or 3 frames. The reason for this is you may get the ball popping out of the glove which changes the play from safe to out.

Don’t just keep the shutter pressed all the time. First of all you will find the camera will stop firing. The camera will need to write those images to your media card and you will miss better moments because you cannot take photos.

For those of you that own the Nikon D4 here are my settings for that camera for shooting sports. Here are the settings for the Nikon D5.

My Gear for these photos

Nikon D5
Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 Sport
Sigma 2x

Anticipating a moment requires you to know what to look for in a moment

[Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250]
If you don’t know what you are looking for to capture in a moment then the odds are pretty good you will not capture that moment.

Take this dance scene from the musical Oklahoma!. I wanted to capture all the dancers in a peak moment where they were all in step together and the light was good on their faces. Just as important was getting the best expressions possible.

“The Farmer and The Cowman” Dance Sequence in the Musical Oklahoma. [Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/180]
Capturing the moment when all the dancers are in time together and all their body parts, hands and feet, are in sync is difficult to do. As you can tell I have a definite moment in dance numbers that I am looking for.

Will Parker dancing with Aunt Eller in the musical Oklahoma. [Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 2500, ƒ/4.4, 1/400]
Peak moments with people almost always are where I can see their expressions and the expression brings more to the photo. I remember studying cowboy art of Russell and Remington. The biggest difference of their work as compared to other western artists was in the details of the expressions of their characters.

Aunt Eller Chews out Ali Hakim for the egg beater that doesn’t do all that he promised as Laurey Williams and Ado Annie look on in the Musical Oklahoma being performed at Roswell High School. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/250]
One of the photos I took even my daughter’s friends had fun with by creating meme where the reference to this photo of Aunt Eller chewing out Ali Hakim looks a lot like Michelangelo’s painting of The Creation of Adam on the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. My point here, pun intended, is that great moments are what artists throughout history have captured.

You want to know what you need to capture, then study the master painters. The more you become familiar with these iconic images the more you will recognize those moments in real life.

Aunt Eller reacts to Curly McLain’s comments while Laurey Williams listens during the first act of the musical Oklahoma. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 4000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250]
Now laughter and smiles are a good thing to always look for, but please don’t try and make all your photos “happy”. This is the fastest track to looking fake if you over do it. You will have a coverage that looks like the “Stepford Wives” movie.

Will Parker sings to Ado Annie. [Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 2500, ƒ/5, 1/100]
Now the other thing you will notice in most situations is the lighting isn’t always perfect as in this photo. Will Parker is in the light and Ado Annie is not as well lighted. Again you are going for the best moment.

Will Parker watches Ali Hakim give Ado Annie a Persian Goodbye. The moment requires a lot of body language to pickup on how Ado Annie enjoys whatever man she is with even after she has pledged her hand in marriage to Will. [Fuji X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.2, 1/70]
In a musical the actors are doing all they can to over emphasize moments. In real life you must really pay attention to people and feel the emotional state they are in. This will help you anticipate moments.

Being easily deceived or tricked, and too willing to believe everything that other people say means you are gullible. The reason you are easily deceived is you haven’t taken the time to observe people and pick up on those body language moments that tip you off.

All I can say is you must immerse yourself into storytelling. Watch movies, musicals and plays and these will give you insights. To see moments study the masters in the arts.