Just two days ago the local televisions stations were predicting 1″ to 2″ of snow possible in metro Atlanta. As you see in the first photo we had the fire department monitoring arcing of a transformer since the snow had weighted down the branches of a pine tree into it.
This morning I woke up to 6″ on our back porch with the snow still falling.
We enjoyed looking out our back windows to see the snow. Staying warm and seeing the snow is a great way to appreciate the beauty of the snow.
Here I was able to capture our Christmas tree all decorated with the snow falling outside the window.
When the snow first started to fall I went out to get some photos figuring that we were getting that 1″ they had predicted.
I was using my Godox V860IIN with the Godox X1NT to trigger the flash off camera. On the flash I was using the MagMod MagSphere to modify the light. This let me get a great color temperature on the leaves and flowers as I got in close.
I found it cool to find still evidence of Fall with the snow. We are still a few weeks from Winter.
We are staying warm this Saturday morning and watching the snow still fall.
This morning I had to clear the snow off the top of the bird feeder. The snow had weighted down the top making our squirrel proof bird feeder now bird proof as well.
This morning the snow has whited out our backyard.
I had a lot of fun this weekend shooting some soccer shots. This is one of my favorite images from the day.
I am laying on the ground shooting with my Nikon 14-24mm lens at 14mm. The guy landed on me once and it might have been with this photo. As Robert Capa said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” I was trying to get super close to create more impact with the photos.
The first photos I took was this typical team photo. I picked a location where I had the sun directly behind them and then used two Godox V860IIN and triggered them with the Godox X1NT.
This kept them from squinting.
Then I moved the players around for different pose.
Then I just got lower to make them look more like heros.
Then I tried another pose.
When you are shooting for the art director they need choices.
I also shot some verticals as well as some action during scrimmage.
So everything I shot I tried to get both verticals and horizontal shots for options.
The problem with actual action shots during a game is the light isn’t quite as nice as when you set something up to get that “poster” shot.
While I could have shot the photos with the two strobes on TTL I chose to use manual so I would get a very consistent output. When you just move to low angle with more sky the camera meter will want to change the flash output and the camera exposure. I wanted to control it so it was consistent.
I recommend not always shooting with TTL for your flash. It will get you in the ballpark really quick, but the consistency of flash as things move isn’t as good as shooting in manual mode instead.
Most of my days start with a good cup of coffee. Every day I also do three things which I think you may do as well.
I look to the past. I often take a moment to just reflect. I ponder about what have I done this year and what was going on a year ago.
Facebook even has a message that pops up most days about posts from the past.
Your Memories on Facebook
Stanley, we care about you and the memories you share here. We thought you’d like to look back on this post from 7 years ago.
Thanksgiving I think made all of us looked back. We thought of family that is no longer with us. We thought of past Thanksgivings with family and friends.This Saturday my wife got a phone call from her friend Stacy Carter’s husband. Stacy had experienced a massive brain aneurysm followed by full cardiac arrest. She died later that night.
When we lose a loved one unexpectedly this causes us to spend a lot of time reflecting.
I know I immediately thought of my children after thinking about Stacy’s two boys and her husband. I thought of how will my children do with me not here.I think about the future. What do I have to do later today, this week and in the coming months?
I am at a lot more peace when I can look on my calendar and see enough work that I will be able to pay my bills for the next month or two. Freelancers are concerned about getting projects on the calendar to meet our obligations.
If there isn’t much on the calendar or nothing at all I am often go into a panic mode. This is where I am thinking about what I can do to get some work.
I often take a few minutes to dream as well. What would I love to do in the future. Where would I love to go and see something new and adventurous?
I am often reflecting on my goals for life. At times I am adjusting to the circumstances to making plans that could potentially help me make those dreams a reality.
I think about the present. I take stock of where I am and my goals and then make my plans for the day, week and even months ahead. This then has me active for the rest of my day.
I am writing emails, making phone calls and working on ideas that need to be refined before I pitch them to my clients.
I also take some time to be thankful. When I look into my past I can see the hardships I had to overcome to get where I am today. I also see that there were many people who helped me along the way.
I also am reminded of how miraculous many of these people happened to just come into my life at the right moment. I know these are what I call my “God Moments”. They cannot be explained any other way than there is something bigger than me at work in my life.
2 Corinthians 9:11
You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
Tomorrow has become “Giving Tuesday” in our country. Giving Tuesday, often stylized as #GivingTuesday for purposes of hashtag activism, refers to the Tuesday after U.S. Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a movement to create an international day of giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season. Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season (Black Friday and Cyber Monday).
This past weekend my wife and I saw The Man Who Invented Christmas. It is a biographical story of Charles Dickens writing A Christmas Carol.
In A Christmas Carol we see how Scrooge also deals with the Past, Present and Future.
After the book came out it revived much of the nostalgia and tradition we associate with Christmas today. Every time this piece of literature is read or displayed on the silver screen, it reminds us of a vision of Christmas that has little to do with displays of wealth, and instead focuses on loved ones and the joy of an act of charity.
There are numerous accounts, from its publication through today, of people becoming especially generous as a direct result of reading the story.
Take time today to look to your past, present and future. I hope like Scrooge you too can see that you can choose redemption as he did.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
― Charles Dickens
“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.”
Capturing emotions requires you to feel the mood of the moment. I love this photo of the Chick-fil-A Cow with the daddy and daughter posing for me, while on the left a dad is taking a selfie of he and his daughter in front of the ferris wheel.
I notice that when people pull out those phones and do selfies they are having a great time. They are also working really hard to express themselves to match how they feel inside about the whole experience.
Seeing the joy on both dad and daughter as they skate together was just great. But the thing I love even more is when there is a little more interaction between people.
When the girl looked up at her dad and you can just tell she thinks the world of dad. You can tell she is cherishing this moment.
I saw also dad’s looking at how much fun their daughters were having as well.
“Men are motivated when they feel needed while women are motivated when they feel cherished.” ― John Gray, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus
There were little things that dad’s did for their daughters that night which touched me so very much. One of the dad’s had bought a corsage for his daughter to wear. She was so proud of this gesture from her dad. He is setting the standard pretty high for the way she needs to be treated in the future.
Since I have covered Daddy Daughter Date Night since the 2nd one ever held at a Chick-fil-A in Olathe, Kansas I was pretty much aware of many of the emotions that I would experience just like I am knowing what plays a football team will call after covering them all season.
I was looking for the moments where their was a genuine emotional connection between dads and their daughters.
Chick-fil-A helped making the moments possible with Cows, Princesses, Ferris Wheel, Carousel, Music with DJ and so much more.
I couldn’t just snap a photo because I saw and dad and a daughter. I had to wait for the moment between the two of them to start to happen. I had to anticipate those moments.
If you want better emotional photos you must first start with you feeling those moments and then be able to anticipate them to capture them.
“Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.” — Yousuf Karsh
A father’s influence on a daughter’s self-image. A dad’s involvement in his daughter’s life is a crucial ingredient in the development of a young woman’s self-esteem. … Direct involvement and encouragement by her father will help diminish a girl’s insecurity and increase her confidence in her own abilities.
My favorite type of photos are where there is an emotional connection. Last night I was able to capture a lot of moments of dads and daughters enjoying the Memphis Zoo for a Chick-fil-A Daddy Daughter Date Night.
By putting my flash off camera for some of the photos I was able to improve the light on the faces of the people to capture those expressions and then drag the shutter to pickup the background to add to the atmosphere.
The dads and daughters enjoyed dancing together.
They enjoyed a Carousel Ride as well.
The Important Role of Dad. While almost any man can father a child, there is so much more to the important role of being dad in a child’s life.
I watched as dads did everything they could to be sure their daughters were having a wonderful time.
Now not all were as brave or maybe good on ice skates as this dad. However many did also take in the ice rink as well.
To walk the zoo could take a long time the zoo had their trams running to take everyone around the zoo cutting down on those long walks.
There were the Cow Celebrities running around as well as the princess for the kids to enjoy being photographed with and to give hugs.
While I would have preferred to shoot everything with available light the problem was that I found the people silhouetted by the lights of the events behind them. The flash also made them the most important part of the photo.
A good father makes all the difference in a child’s life. He’s a pillar of strength, support and discipline. His work is endless and, oftentimes, thankless.
I have two fellow photojournalists that I love to hire when I need help. One is Robin Nelson and the other is Michael Schwarz when it comes to meeting tight deadlines.
What all three of us have in common is newspaper and wire service backgrounds.
We have a lot in common with Fire Fighters I have come to realize over the years. Have you ever visited a Fire Station? I know I did as a young preschooler.
You will notice they are ready to go at a moment’s notice. They have their firefighter pants [Heat and Flame Resistant Clothing] with suspenders over their boots. Jacket hanging with their helmet and breathing unit nearby.
They are not their when they come back from a fire. Once they return to the firehouse their first mission is to get everything ready to roll. They clean their uniforms, they clean the trucks and any of the supplies that need restocking is done.
99% of the photographers I meet if they were firefighter would not not have their boots and uniforms ready to go out the door.
What A.S.A.P Means to Wire Service
Shooting for a wire service like Associated Press means that you get a shot and as fast as you can get it out of the camera to your computer to caption it and upload it to the Associated Press server is expected. This “fast as you can” usually means in less than 15 minutes and not like 2 or 3 weeks.
Each of us are always asking the client, “When is your deadline?” What surprises us is when they say A.S.A.P. each of us finds ourselves asking what they means. Do you want it right after the event, next day or when?
We all think when they say A.S.A.P. that we are ready to bring our laptops along and turn it around in minutes and not days.
Why turn it around right away?
When I shoot just about anything I am trying my best to edit those images and get them to the client immediately. When I shot some weddings, which I rarely do, I had the 2,500+ images to the bride and groom before they left for their honeymoon the next day.
You see my goal is to be ready like the firefighter. Too many photographers I have called to do assignments that have been too busy to take on another job. They were busy editing.
If you approach being a professional photographer the way firefighter do then you come home from a job and maybe go to bed, but the first thing you do is get that job edited and off the computer to the client.
Actually the first thing I do is pull all my batteries and recharge them while I am editing. Once I have ingested the cards and have backup I reformat the cards so they are ready to shoot a fresh job.
I have different lighting kits ready for different type of jobs. I have speed light kit, studio strobe kit(s), and a video light kit ready for any types of jobs.
Once those images are delivered I am also scanning all those receipts and creating an invoice that goes to the client as well.
It is rare that you could call me and I am not ready at that moment to walk out the door for any kind of assignment. The only thing that I can think of that would delay me getting on the plane for any where in the world is only if the country requires a visa.
If you were to approach your business by getting your photography to the clients immediately and have your gear all fresh and ready to go then your business will be on fire for the right reasons.
How often do you feel insulted when some says your camera takes great pictures?
The reason so many people think this is because they treat photography like a commodity. They believe it is mainly the gear that takes photos.
When you give those people a Nikon D5 they will get better photos than their camera on their phone.
The thing that makes you a professional photographer is your knowledge of how to use your photography gear.
I believe you could take on the challenge of using every piece of your gear in capturing a subject in as many different styles of photography as possible. You would be changing the depth-of-field, controlling motion with your shutter speed and pulling out your lighting gear to create so many different looks.
You could then show this to clients as to show how you can take the same subject and give them many different looks. It might be a great way to talk about how knowing more about the purpose of hiring you will help you with creating the look and feel they need from the photos you create.
So much of our business revolves around tools. We often think of our gear as our only tools, but I want you to think about other parts of your business like you do you camera gear.
Your business cards, websites, blogs, newsletters, phone calling and postcards are all tools that have a great deal in common with your camera gear.
Too often photographers treat their marketing tools like people think that our cameras take great photos.
We create a website and then wonder why we are not getting calls. We print business cards and hand them out and still no calls.
We even treat our photos the same way with clients. We just hand them the photos.
I have heard we are no longer living in the Industrial Age but rather the Information Age. The Information Age (also known as the Computer Age, Digital Age, or New Media Age) is a period in human history characterized by the shift from traditional industry that the Industrial Revolution brought through industrialization, to an economy based on information computerization.
What was the difference of being a farmer during the Agricultural Age to moving to the Industrial Age to now the Information Age?
The farmer used animals to plow the fields and also fertilize those fields during the Agricultural Age. During the Industrial Age it was about using tractors and man made fertilizer [nitrogen] to increase productivity.
What changed in the Information Age was those farmers learned how to analyze the data from their farms and improve all areas of the farming. They used computer models that took the data from satellite imaging of their fields to put different amounts of fertilizer and water on their fields to get the best yield from all of the land.
As a photographer you need to know how to use your marketing tools. You need to understand how they all work individually and how they work together. There is a best time to use each of those tools and there are also times that using a tool can do damage if not implemented correctly.
What I am discovering more and more is many clients do not know how to use their marketing tools either. They don’t know how to take a well crafted story that is a video and integrate it into their communications plan. They think maybe they show it just at a meeting or put it online or some other tactic and not really knowing what the strength of the video is compared to their business card or a brochure.
Be sure you help to educate your client on how to use your content to best leverage their audience.
Living in the Information Age is about the personalization of your services to address the needs of your clients. This is the knowledge economy we now live in.
This evolution of technology in daily life and social organization has led to the fact that the modernization of information and communication processes has become the driving force of social evolution.
We have moved into an era where photography is being used all the time. The professional photographer’s true commodity is their knowledge on how to use it and how to control it for clients.
The best way to help your clients understand how to use photography in their marketing and communications is to do a personal project that you demonstrate how this can be done. Then you have an example to show to your clients.
Yesterday I was trying to find the right perspective so that in one photo I could capture the new Chick-fil-A that is in a container at the base of Atlanta’s Skyview off of Centennial Park.
The photo above was my favorite of all the photos because I also lucked up and caught the Atlanta StreetCar as well in the photo.
Just a few seconds before the first photo I captured this of the train passing by.
When I first arrived I shot this photo. I thought it captured the restaurant at the base of the landmark really well.
I shot details shots all over and everything in between. While I didn’t have a drone I decided to do the next best thing available and pay for ticket to get the view of the restaurant that those who ride the Skyview would get from inside one of the Gondolas.
You can see the restaurant a few times from inside the gondola. So my job was not just to find the “One Shot” but to compliment the photo as well with details like this from inside the gondola.
I moved to the other side of the gondola and on the next pass of the restaurant shot this to also compliment the other photo.
While this photo doesn’t show the restaurant it does give an idea of why people are drawn to the ferris wheel for a ride. You get to overlook Centennial Park that was central gathering place during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.
I went around looking for people at the restaurant as well.
I just kept looking for photos. These are a small fraction of what I shot.
Take Away Tips
Look for as many perspectives as possible
Go Super Wide
Once you have the Wide shot, the medium shot and the closeup then go and do it again looking for something different. Do this until you have exhausted your ideas.
I had the pleasure of photographing the The Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta Gala where they gave four Awards for those who have had impact on Atlanta. The ISB seeks to build bridges between Muslims and the wider community.
The thing about my job is sometimes I want to pinch myself to see if it is real what I am experiencing. Photographing the award honorees was a special honor.
Sally Yates is a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Justice Department and formerly served as a federal prosecutor in Atlanta. Most recently she was the acting Attorney General who earlier this year refused to enforce President Donald Trump’s first ban on travel from several majority-Muslim nations, calling the order “unlawful.” Trump fired her for her decision.
Arthur Blank has given more than 300 million dollars to charity through the years. Most recently he has helped with Westside neighborhood which includes Vine City. The English Avenue/Vine City area has some of the highest poverty and crime rates in the city, with the Carter St. area surrounding the Vine City MARTA station ranking in 2010 as the #1 most dangerous neighborhood in Atlanta and #5 in the United States.
Blank said his family foundation will contribute $15 million, bringing the Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund’s total to $30 million. The fund goes towards housing, education, health, entrepreneurship, workforce development and youth leadership.
I have to admit attending this was the most diverse crowd I have been apart of in Atlanta. People from all faiths were in the room and different nationalities.
While there were Muslims, Christians and Jews in the room within each group there was even more diversity. Muslims from India, Arab Countries and many whose roots are from diverse American blend background. There were also mix of Christians from many different denominations.
Besides covering the stage I am also covering VIP room with donors getting a time to meet the Award Winners one-on-one and get their photo made with them.
The volunteer working the VIP room and I spent some time talking before people arrived. She was like super excited to maybe meeting Sally Yates. The volunteer was star struck when Yates walked into the room. I just asked Sally Yates and her husband to get their photo made with her. The rest of the night that volunteer was thanking me.
I enjoyed talking with Bill Nigut. Dorie, my wife, let him know that he was what we listened to on our way to see our daughter in Columbus, GA. I let him know I listen to him often along with Greg Bluestein on his news show.
Years ago while on staff at Georgia Tech I had photographed Mokhtar Bazaraa. Bazaraa, Executive Vice President of LogicBlox and former professor at Georgia Tech, was awarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award. It was good to make this connection as well.
If you get the chance to cover an event be sure you read up on who you are photographing. Sometimes you may need a little “insider information” to help you with ice breakers to talk with people at the event.
I talked with Bishop Robert. C. Wright’s kids. We are both preacher kids and I was able to find out about their passions. The connection I used later with the Bishop was that our daughter and his were both Thespians.
My ice breaker with Mokhtar Bazaraa was some of our connections at Georgia Tech.
Ice breakers are really ways you show your interest in the person.
Another tip is to arrive early and set your white balance for the lighting on the stage. Test you lighting in different rooms. It also makes the rooms your rooms after a while. You are there first and it will help you feel like the host rather than the guest. This can also help you with being more proactive with people.
We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed, and the important things will not change if we keep our priorities in proper order. – S. Truett Cathy
How people approach photography these days has me very disappointed. There is way too much emphasis on gear and techniques. While you must master your gear and learn techniques they are not the purpose of photography.
The essential purpose of photography is communication. Few people take pictures solely to please themselves. Most of us take them because we want them seen by others. Pictures are a photographer’s means of expression as a writer’s means are words.
Every time a new piece of camera gear comes out there is so much talk about it. I was privileged to have started my career before the digital revolution.
When I would go to workshops before digital cameras were introduced we had been working with the same technology for more than one hundred years. While the cameras did evolve in this time and the film technology got better the understanding of how to take a photo didn’t change.
Here are what I would like to think of are the four “Ps” to make your images better.
A great photo connects with people. If you know what you want people to take away from looking at your photo, then you have a good chance at making a great photo. When you don’t know why you are pushing the shutter at that moment is one of the greatest indicators that the audience will not know either.
Problem solving requires you to be very curious. I didn’t know it at the time I was first labeled by my dad as “Curious George” that this quality would prove to be one of the most important skills one should have when being a professional photographer.
You see Curious George is a sweet African monkey who can’t help but run into trouble. George’s friend, “The Man in the Yellow Hat,” tries very hard to care for George and is always saving the day.
Curious George is intrigued and pursues his curiosity while not paying attention to what he is doing. While photographers shouldn’t get themselves into trouble they should be curious enough to want to figure out things and ask why.
If you look through history you will notice that great things could not have happened often before that moment or after. There is often a season for a good idea.
Mathematicians often do not solve some of the most complex problems until often other ideas are able to be mixed to create the new solution.
For example Guglielmo Marconi is credited with inventing radio, but his equipment was based on Tesla’s ideas. Without Tesla there would not have been Marconi’s solution.
One of the best things one can do is to keep a journal or at least write down some of your ideas in a book. You may pitch these ideas to others and find they are not interested.
Then often years later you can go back to that book and pitch those same ideas and now the season is right for them. You may have learned something in between that helps you do a better job of communicating your idea as well.
As we know the word photography means to write with light. Well you must have a lot of patience if you want to take photos using natural light.
There have been many photographers who for example need a lot of time to do the research to know when to take a photograph. When Steve McCurry was working on the story for France’s BiCentennial for National Geographic he spent more than two weeks going around and making notes about the light and places. He took photos more for research than for publication.
He then realized certain places would be great photos, but he needed to come back at a different time of day.
One photographer was doing a story on a train and saw this gorgeous landscape with a railroad track that went through it across a bridge. The photographer decided to wait until the peak of fall season to capture the moment.
I know that in just photographing a person making a speech that I must anticipate the moments that capture those expressions that will do the best job of capturing the mood and message the speaker was making.
I have also photographed a few people that were difficult to capture due to their unusual blinking. So besides being patient to get them looking the right direction with the right face expression and body language I had to get it when their eyes weren’t closed or half closed.
Closely related to problem solving is being persistent. Musicians may study music for years and practice eight to ten hours a day so that they can take the stage and perform with such skill that it makes people want to pay to hear them.
You see probably the most famous photographer of all time Ansel Adams was described as having same qualities of Curious George as well. He was described as a hyperactive child. He transitioned from being a concert pianist to being a photographer.
He grew up going to Yellowstone and other parks. He spent years working on finding the right location for photographing some of his most famous photos. This also required him to return to the park for right time of year, day and weather to get the photos we now see of his in museums, homes and books of these iconic places.
While Ansel Adams happen to drive upon the scene Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico he would later spend much time in the lab to get all the values he could out of that negative to make the prints that we see today.
When we think of the famous photojournalist Eugene Smith we think of all the time he spent on stories like the Country Doctor. He followed the doctor for days to build a story. Smith was hired to produce 100 photographs of contemporary Pittsburgh for a book in honor of the city’s bicentennial. Two years after beginning the planned three-week assignment the editors demanded the photos and if it were not for the funding stopping Smith would have continued to pursue better photos than he had.
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
This famous quote is a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and perception. Let me rephrase this question for the photographer.
“If a photographer makes a photo and no one ever sees it, then what is it’s purpose?”
Even if what you photograph isn’t a person but a thing you are most likely making the photograph to share with other people. You want them to appreciate something you saw as much as you did.
Matthew 22:37–40: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I believe photographers when we do our jobs at the best are loving our neighbor. We care for them in such a way we want to share our experiences with them or make photos of them to share their essence with other people.
I see photography as serving the purpose of the glue that helps connect people to one another.
Until someone actually invent the transporter device used on Star Trek to beam people around time and space we only have photography/video that allows us to see people around the world and even into outer space.
Putting it all together
You need camera gear to capture photos. Learn to use the gear the same way you use a car. While you may have never driven a stick shift, I do remember there was a moment when I was no longer thinking about shifting gears but just doing it. This would be the same as the photographer who shoots today in manual mode.
Most likely there are more photographers using some of the automation on their cameras just like we use automatic transmissions and some of us even have cars that help drive themselves today.
Most of us don’t really care that much about how the car works, we just buy a model that we like and then use it to take us places.
Use your camera like your car. Let the camera take you places. Spend your time like you do when you plan your trips. Focus on the destination and the people you will see. Make the trip with your camera about what is in front of the camera and not the camera itself. This is how you will make great photos.