Who has your back?

[Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/320]
If you are a freelancer or a business owner you might be like me and wake up in the middle of the night sweating from anxiety of how will I pay my bills this month. There is nothing on the books for a while and you wonder will the phone ring again or will you get an email.

Matthew 6:25-34

25 I tell you not to worry about your life. Don’t worry about having something to eat, drink, or wear. Isn’t life more than food or clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky! They don’t plant or harvest. They don’t even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Aren’t you worth more than birds?

27 Can worry make you live longer?[a] 28 Why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow. They don’t work hard to make their clothes. 29 But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth[b] wasn’t as well clothed as one of them. 30 God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. He will surely do even more for you! Why do you have such little faith?

31 Don’t worry and ask yourselves, “Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?” 32 Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these. 33 But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.

34 Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today.

So I know that scripture and still I wake up in a cold sweat. My main concern is how to get a paying job from a client or potential client. This is the core issue.

[Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/200]
One of the best things about being young was not having these worries. My parents carried those worries for me. I went out and played with my friends.

I think the key to solving the “cold sweats” at night are the same keys to building strong friendships.

One of the coolest things I can remember growing up was when someone knocked on the door and wanted to play with me. Today I still enjoy it when a friend calls me up and asks me to play golf with them.

This feeling of euphoria is one of the most powerful emotions.

[Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/80]
What was even better than just having a friend knock on my door was the invitation to do something that they had already made plans. Do you want to go bowling? Some of the best memories are when I had a friend who was creating an experience for me and asked me to join them.

One way to have your “cold sweat” disappear is the client to call with a project. That solves my problem right away. This does happen, but what I have found that solves this problem more than receiving a request is to be just like that friend of mine knocking on the door asking me if I wanted to go out on the lake in their boat for skiing.

You see, most all of your clients also have those “cold sweats” of some sort. They need ideas as well.

Solve your clients problem and you will solve your own

What is your client’s problem? This takes a lot of time to figure out. Steve Jobs solved problems for the world. One of the first problems he solved was a way to carry around a lot of music and help musicians sell their music through the iPod and iTunes.

Another problem Steve Jobs solved was needing a computer with you all the time to be able to solve problems at a moments notice. The iPhone allowed you to search the web right in the palm of your hand.

[Nikon D2X, 20-200mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 4100, ƒ/2.8, 1/80]
You need to put your clients first and success will find you. Once you have clients it is much easier to get to know them and learn what their needs are than if they are prospects.

If you do a great job of providing a solution to their problems that you can provide then you are on the way to a profitable career.

Not every solution should involve you. If you are truly concerned for a client there are times that you just will give your client a solution that doesn’t involve you directly.  When you do this on a regular basis rather than just one time you will be communicating that you are really looking out for their best interests over your own.

By not always coming to a client with solutions that only you can fulfill but others are better at meeting those needs you become the fixer for them. They will be more likely to listen to you more than if the only time you are coming to them you are the solution.

[Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/4, 1/640]
When you are the person calling your clients with ideas for their problems, you are just like the friend knocking on their door asking them to come and join you on an adventure.

Faith is Distinct from Human Belief

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/18

Yesterday I was studying Hebrews 11. As I was reading all the examples of those who had great faith it struck me that all these examples did not have the scripture as Jews, Christians or Muslims have today.

Hebrews 11
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. 

The chapter continues using the examples of: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Sarah.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.

They had a very special relationship with God. They knew God and God knew them. They seemed to walk together through life.

What to me is interesting is the phrase of “By Faith” used to introduce each of them. This is quite different than saying “By Confidence”.

Faith is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people. In short, “faith” for the believer is “God’s divine persuasion” – and therefore distinct from human belief (confidence), yet involving it. The Lord continuously births faith in the yielded believer so they can know what He prefers, i.e. the persuasion of His will.

Throughout scripture faith is always received from God, and never generated by us. In many ways this is what Christians would believe is the Holy Spirit working through us. It is also what many would say is how God works on the hearts and minds of those who are not believers.

Understanding that Faith is given by God makes it much easier to read this scripture and understand it was only with God’s intervention that Abraham could have offered his son in sacrifice.

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

The more I read and study about the concept of faith the more I see that it is something that comes from a relationship with God.

Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast”

To run my business by faith would require me to be called by God to be in this business. It requires me to yield to his will and to take time each day to be in a relationship with God. Without the relationship there can be no faith. I must allow God to speak to me and be willing to listen.

If you feel called to the profession you are doing today, then are you living by faith? I cannot tell you the 5 steps to living by faith, because faith is given by God and not something that we can be produced by us.

We can carve out time today to be with God. We can read the scripture and live by his commandments. We can seek to know his will.

This to me is why I love Jesus so much. This one scripture keeps it simple for me.

Matthew 22:36-40
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Mac Users tips on Sharing files with PCs

USB Drive

This is written for Mac users. I have found that when it comes to formating a USB drive or even an external hard drive that you intend to share with PC users it is important to know there are many ways you can choose to format the drive.

I will walk you through the steps here which will let you easily share your files with anyone and if they want to they can add files to the drive to give back to you. We had to do this for our Storyteller Abroad Workshops where we had a mixture of Macs and PCs used in the workshop.

We wanted to share photos and videos so we could use this in b-roll and we needed to have everyone’s Adobe Premier project completely saved to a hard drive that we could open on the instructors computers to fix if needed later or if we need to change something due to changes in the storyline.

In your toolbar pick the Launchpad.

Then select “Other” folder.

Inside that folder is “Disk Utility” that you want to select. Another way to select this is to go to Spotlight and type in Disk Utility.

When it launches it you will then go and highlight your drive that you want to format on the left column.

Then in the top center of the menu click on “Erase”.

Name your drive and then click on “Format” so you can see all the options.

You want to pick “ExFAT”.

Next be sure you pick the scheme of “Master Boot Record” as well. The problem is that Apple defaults new partitions to GUID, which is bootable on a new Mac. But Windows can’t read it. You have to manually choose MBR (Master Boot Record) as the partition type, which is bootable in Windows, and then format as exFAT.

Sometimes you might get an error after it attempts to format the drive. Try it a second time and it usually works.

Now you can share your files using a USB drive or hard drive with your clients.

I suggest using this format all the time so that you never get the call that the client cannot open your USB Jump Drive or Hard Drive.

Use flash like garlic – A little goes a long way

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/125 – Neewer TT850 flash, Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger, MagMod Magsphere]
I am one of my favorite customers Raving Fan. For the past 13 years Chick-fil-A has taken one day a year for customer appreciation day. However the cows like to call it “Cow Appreciation Day.”

Being a Raving Fan of Chick-fil-A I wanted my photos to stand out and show my enthusiasm for the brand.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 560, ƒ/4, 1/100 – Neewer TT850 flash, Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger, MagMod Magsphere]
Now everyone is taking photos with their phones and point and shoots of the day. I am competing with thousands of photos. How do you make your photos stand out and look “different”?

The best way I have found is to use a flash off at 45º of the camera axis to create a pleasing light. It also helps color correct giving you excellent skin tones.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 100, ƒ/6.3, 1/200 – Neewer TT850 flash, Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger, MagMod Magsphere]
Here is the setup where my assistant is holding the off camera flash for me.

Using the flash helps in so many ways. I do not have raccoon eyes from the sun overhead and getting the skin color just right is equivalent to singing in tune.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 140, ƒ/2, 1/100 – Neewer TT850 flash, Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger, MagMod Magsphere]
I am using the flash inside and outside. Also I am just adding the flash to about +1 Stop above the existing light. Sometimes a little less. If you are just above the existing light level the flash can help color correct any color cast.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 100, ƒ/6.3, 1/200 – Neewer TT850 flash, Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger, MagMod Magsphere]
One more thing that might not be apparent, but I am not lighting the entire scene. I am just adding a little light to the subject only. The backgrounds are all lighted by other light source than my flash.

If you want to make your photos stand out just add a little light to the subject, because just like seasoning a little light goes a long way.

Here is all the gear I used for the photo shoot. All of these links are affiliate links, which means that I receive a commission from any purchases made using the affiliate link. This is at no additional cost to you.

Nikon D5
 Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4
Neewer TT860
Neewer Radio remote

MagMod Basic Kit – v3


How to identify people in large group photos and projects

[Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 100, ƒ/9, 1/80 – (2) Alienbees B1600 for fill]
Yesterday I did a few large group photos. The editors needed identification of everyone in these group photos. Within Lightroom you can go to “People” and it will search for all the faces and using face recognition software similar to how Facebook works.

While Lightroom helps you with “face recognition” you still have to get everyone’s names. For an earlier post on how Lightroom “face recognition works here is that blog post.

Here is a link to Adobe Lightroom and PhotoShop software:


By the way I just made the photo with all the people’s names in it big in Lightroom and did a screen grab. In addition to putting the information in the IPTC I also gave them this photo for them to see the identification.

[Nikon D5, 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 360, ƒ/1.8, 1/200]
I had each person print their name on a 3.5″ x 5″ card with a Sharpie. Then I made a quick headshot of each person.

[Nikon D5, 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 140, ƒ/1.8, 1/200]
After they held up the card I had them put it by their side and did a couple of very quick headshots. I gave all these also to the client. It is a bonus for them, but I needed it to help me to identify people in all the photos.

I also needed everyone to fill out a Model Release. Here is the short form I use on a card stock.

My assistant hands out pens and the cards to make all this go really fast. I use the Software fotoBiz to create the model releases. It comes with the wording as well for the model release. This is a link to the software. I am an affiliate and the revenue from sales helps support this blog.

I hope these tips can help you the next time you need to identify a large number of people quickly in your group photos.

What do I charge and how do I word something with a client?

This is the most useful software package I own for my business. While I have Adobe Creative Cloud Suite which I use Lightroom, PhotoShop and Premier Pro regularly, it is fotoBiz X that runs the business side of my work. Here is a link to the software. I am a affiliate of their program. This is an affiliate link which means that I receive a commission from any purchases made using the affiliate link. This is at no additional cost to you.

Now for years I knew about the software, but I didn’t use it. I couldn’t figure out the advantages of the software.

Now many years later I regret having not purchased this earlier. Experience started to teach me that I needed help.

When you first open the program you should go to setup and put in your information and if you have a logo put that in as well.

They show you examples of what it will look like on a #10 envelop or on a invoice.

One thing you will need early on is a model release.

Under “Forms and Releases” you will find five difference templates. There is one for:

Adult Model Release
Minor Model Release
Photographer’s Portfolio Release
Property Release
Simplified Adult Release

It will drop your name or company name into the form and then you can just print it out.

Another problem I was always running into was how do you word your cover letters, late payment letters and even a copyright violation letter? Well the software comes with a lot of email templates that you can use and modify for your correspondence uses.

A question I often had early on and continue today having is what to charge for certain uses. The fotoBiz comes with fotoQuote which will help you with knowing what you should charge not only for a stock use, but also in assignment work. Here is a link to just buy fotoQuote.

fotoQuote was just updated to version 7. This includes social media use now in the latest version.

It has also video and all the possible ways you might want to use it. Now while you may not always get the prices they recommend, these are the prices many are getting in the industry.

By having this information of prices you now have a better idea of the range of a job and what you can quote. I have learned that fotoQuote has helped me more than anything in getting a better idea of a low medium and high price for a job. I just give clients three prices most of the time.

The low, medium and high price quote is based on uses that the client can get as well as how long they may use the images. Without fotoQuote I really didn’t have any idea on how to offer three different prices.

fotoBiz also helps you with creating estimates which then can easily be transformed into the invoice with just a click. You can always just create the invoice as well.

When you sell a stock image the software lets you embed a thumbnail into the invoice with all the information about the sale. It will ask if you want a reminder on your calendar when the usage is up. This way you can then write a letter not to remind the people time is up, but to write a letter asking if they want to extend it with estimates for extending the usage.

You can download the demo and try it for 14 days free of charge. fotoBiz is just $299. This is not a subscription based software. You own it and can use it forever.

I can tell you that this is a software that will help empower the freelancer to know what to charge and help you communicate with your prospects and clients in putting together estimates, invoices and even email correspondence.

FotoBiz® has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so what do you have to lose?

Here is a video showing you how it works.


Remembering the Balkans

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5, 1/100]
It has been a little over a week since I returned from the Balkans. I have been reviewing my photos and reflecting on my time there.

I was not there to shoot photos and come away with a story for myself. I was there teaching workshop with three other instructors on multimedia storytelling.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/120]
This is a photo of the the three instructors: James Dockery, Pat Davison, Jeff Raymond and one of the students Allison Basye.

We spent our time helping the students with their stories.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.5, 1/2700]
I ended up making a lot of snapshots. This is what we called the Balkan Harley. They made a lot of noise driving down the street.

These were photos for me to jog my memory. I wasn’t able to take the time to get the best photo of each situation. I did feel like I was able to get good photos of the setups and few shots of the other instructors teaching. Here is one of James working with Meghan Duncan.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/90]
We navigated telling the stories through all the politics of the area. That took a lot of time of talking through the stories a few times as compared to doing a story where you can be free to say whatever you need.

[Nikon D5, 85mm, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/160]
There were a few “moments” that I liked from the trip. Seeing these boys react to James Dockery was one of those moments.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 640, ƒ/5, 1/100]
After I got that photo os the kids laughing James went back to show them some of his shots of them.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.2, 1/500]
I thought is was fun just watching people as here were the locals on the bike verses our group walking on the left.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4, 1/100]
While walking the streets and taking photos is fun in different places around the world, they still don’t compare to being inside the homes and businesses having them share their stories.

Go here if you are interested in joining us next year. storytellersabroad.com We don’t have dates or location yet, so stay tuned.

Theatre is life compacted

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 4000, ƒ/4.5, 1/200]
My daughter is helping teach a summer camp theatre class. This past week the camp was about what in theatre they call the Triple Threat: Act, Sing, and Dance.

From Mary Poppins to Matilda, Pippin to Wicked, this energetic session focused on popular Broadway musicals and plays, and included a dance/choreography class and song component in the voice class.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/3.5, 1/200]
Compare just these two photos. The main difference between the two is the actors in a peak performance moment and just standing there.

Over and over way too many people take the later photo than the first. The reason is pretty simple. They need a photo of their kid on the stage. Both photos do the same thing for those parents. They just see a photo as showing their kid on stage.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/4.2, 1/200]
Theatre people are some of the most talented artists on the planet. To be considered a strong artist in the field of theatre you must be able to act, sing and dance excellently. Not only must you be able to memorize lines, you must also be able to memorize a routine, hit all the right notes in a song, and maintain that audience interested at all times. As opposed to other art forms, theatre happens completely live, so there are no re-dos. You must be on it at all times.

If you pick the right moment in a musical or play you can capture the peak performance showing this talent.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/3.2, 1/100]
For me theatre is simple to shoot. I believe playwrights have compacted the best moments in a storyline that is quite compelling. To capture these moments in real life would take days or years as compared to a 2 hour show.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 500, ƒ/4, 1/100]
This photo of the lady taking selfie of her friends and the ladies walking by looks to me like the beginning of a song in a musical. I can just picture the people on the bench breaking into song and the ladies walking by also responding. The words would give us insights into the thoughts of the people in real life.

If you are learning photography, go to the theater and look for moments. The playwright has assembled the best moments of a story for you.

Knowing your subject doesn’t produce a great story, it is …

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/25]
This young boy and his friends were hanging out at a bumper car ride in the Balkans. The boy is looking at me through a reflection of mirrors on the ride. There is a curiosity in his eyes about who is this American with a camera.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/40]
His look and the fact I didn’t have the time to get to know him reminded me that it really takes a lot of things to listen to others.

We had just finished showing our projects to the Storytellers Abroad Multimedia Workshop on Friday night and we all took a break and had walked downtown.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/4, 1/100]
Saturday we put the finishing touches on the stories to show that evening to all the Global Workers and subjects of the stories during our Storytellers Abroad Multimedia Workshop.

Here is Pat Davison working with Hannah Dunlap, a student at Cedarville University while beside them are Meghan Duncan, just graduated High School working with James Dockery on putting those finishing touches on their stories to show Saturday night.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/2.8, 1/100]
Pat and Hannah are celebrating because they just started the export of the finished project. Meghan and James are getting close and I was working with Juliana Spicer, Liberty University student, on fixing a corrupt sequence in her Adobe Premier Pro project. We got it fixed and she showed her show as well.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/3.6, 1/100]
This is Korinna Duke, a Cedarville University grad, with her subject. Korinna told me later that she was watching him during the showing of the story she did for his reaction. When he gasped at part of the story she was really worried. She wanted to tell his story as accurately as she could.

Did I just offend him was her question. At the end he not only loved the multimedia package he asked to get a copy to show all his friends and family.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/5, 1/125]
This week has taught me a lot about “Getting it Right”. We were in the Balkans telling stories of people that we didn’t speak their native language and their English lacked some of the polish necessary to get to the heart of the story.

Most of the students read what the global workers had said about the person they were doing a story on and did little on that first interview to peel beyond what was written on the page. They had basically taken the story at face value.

Some of the subjects had been persecuted based on their ethnicity prior to the Balkan wars for many years. After the war that hasn’t disappeared. During the war instead of insults and loosing their jobs just for being ethnically different they had guns pointed at their heads. They watched as the soldiers executed their parents in front of them by cutting off their heads.

The main reason we were their was due to one global worker who during the Balkans war went to Europe from the United States to help with refugees in a camp. The war was over much sooner than expected and she was asked to work with all the children that were either orphans or lost their fathers.

She created a school to love on these kids and help them during their rebuilding of the country.

Many of the subjects were very guarded about telling their stories. It required the students of the workshop to build trust and listen with more than just their ears. They had to listen with their eyes. They had to be more observant than in their normal life.

Teddy Roosevelt said, “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is the core skill necessary for the storyteller. Their subjects don’t care how much you know about them, they want to know how much you care about them before they will allow you into their lives.

This week each instructor would ask questions of the students about their subjects. The common question was, “did you ask the subject?”

The key to getting the story right and having the information necessary to produce a compelling story relies solely on the storytellers curiosity and character. Do they care more about the person than the story? If you do then the subject will let you into their lives. It is only when the subject opens the door to their heart is it possible for the storyteller to take the rest of the world with them on that journey.

Wrapping up editing today for tonight’s show for the students

Korinna Duke interviews the founder of a Leadership Academy in the Balkans. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/9, 1/280]
Today is our time that we will show to everyone in the class each of the students projects. The students have enjoyed hearing the stories of Global Workers taking the time to develop relationships with the people of the Balkans to improve their lives.

It has been about 17 years since the war ended and they haven’t fully recovered.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 500, ƒ/4, 1/100]
So many of the youth lost family during this time. They are looking to the future and starting their families.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4, 1/100]
Today each student is working on their computers and now putting all the interviews, video, stills and picking music to help tell the story of the subject they have been working with since this past Sunday.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/5, 1/100]
Today I along with the other teachers; Pat Davison, James Dockery, Jeff Raymond and myself, will go around to each of the twelve students to review their stories and offer advice on how to make it better during their edit.

The biggest thing we have been doing in the first edit is getting their stories short. Now we are polishing the videos.

Come back sometime in the next couple of weeks to see some of the finished multimedia packages.