Atlanta Senior Instagrammable Places

Can you imagine what life would be like without photography? Social media has helped evolve this art form. So if you’re looking to take great photos and commemorate your senior year, you must check out these Instagrammable places in Atlanta. Little Five Points is one of Atlanta’s hippest neighborhoods. Shoppers head to Moreland Avenue’s indie stores for offbeat vintage clothing, vinyl, and fabulous gifts. At the same time, young locals hang out at the dive bars, burger joints, and Ethiopian and vegan eateries that line the surrounding streets.

Zahara – Senior Photo [NIKON Z 6, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/2500, ƒ/3.5, (35mm = 35)]

It has been described as Atlanta’s version of Haight-Ashbury, a melting pot of sub-cultures and the Bohemian center of the Southern United States.

Zahara Ahmed – Senior Photo [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/1250, ƒ/4, (35mm = 85)]

Little Five Points is one of Atlanta’s best neighborhoods for viewing street art. Unlike most of Atlanta’s neighborhoods, the street art in Little Five Points is highly concentrated in a compact, quickly walked the area. 

Zahara – Senior Photo [NIKON Z 6, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/400, ƒ/3.5, (35mm = 35)]

When I talk to seniors, I let them pick the place. This way, the location is something that means something to them. Zahara wants to work in the film industry. She is looking at colleges around the country that will help her achieve her dream.

Zahara – Senior Photo [NIKON Z 6, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/1600, ƒ/3.5, (35mm = 35)]

If you know your kid’s interests, as we are with our daughter, who is in her senior year of college, then you know how much they love this area of Atlanta.

Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 10000, 1/160, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

The Krog Street Tunnel, located under the CSX rail yard, is a tunnel in Atlanta known for its street art. The tunnel links the Cabbagetown, Reynoldstown, and Inman Park neighborhoods. It is the premiere dank graffiti pit in Atlanta. When the tunnel isn’t full of idling cars in rush-hour traffic, it’s a photoshoot destination, a hip-hop music video staple, and the latest extension of Atlanta’s Beltline project.

Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1000, 1/60, ƒ/4, (35mm = 58)]

The artwork around Atlanta has exploded, giving you numerous locations for photo shoots.

Zahara – Senior Photo [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/1250, ƒ/1.8, (35mm = 85)]

Where in town would you like to be photographed? This is an excellent time of year for doing senior photos. Give me a call.

Zahara – Senior Photo [NIKON Z 6, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/6400, ƒ/2.2, (35mm = 35)]

Let me know your favorite location where you want to be photographed, and tell me what props you will bring. Maybe you play an instrument or play a sport. We can incorporate all that to capture your personality.

Chelle Leary at Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta, Georgia [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/60, ƒ/4, (35mm = 58)]

Here is a link to my main website and more senior photo examples.

Creating Website Part 4

Your greatest friend when creating a website is the 3″x5″ index cards.

Your first page will have these essential elements.

You will have the name/logo for your business. You will state the problem that the customer has and your solution. The best place to put a call to action BUTTON, which will be a link to another page, is in the upper right-hand corner. This should be on every landing page you create. Please don’t make people look for it.

The call to action is always a way to contact you and get the ball rolling on the problem they need you to help solve.

Here are some descriptions I found on some websites:

  • A unique law practice led by Dr. _____, attorney and board-certified Neurological Surgeon.
  • Telling your story through classic, joyful photography & heartfelt films
  • Atlanta Lifestyle Family Photographer

Now compare those to some of these:

  • We provide back-end support so you save time.
  • Are you wasting time with administrative work?
  • Training IT professionals to become excellent at service and support.

Can you see the difference? That first set is pretty vague regarding the client’s problem and what they are offering. Use this tagline to separate yourself from your competition.

The Big Secret

Believe it or not, even if every business in your category provides 24/7 service, if you are the only one with that on your website, particularly in the tagline, you will get more business when that is what someone needs. They need you at some odd hour of the day. They will call you first because you are open.

So, where is a great place to see good taglines? One place is newspapers and magazine article headers and photo captions.

Another place is to look at Social Media and those clickbait ads.

Clickbait works. Whether we like it or not.

People hate the idea of clickbait. But they are appropriately used – for good! – it’s one of the most powerful ways to grab attention in this increasingly saturated world.

The ‘cliffhanger’ or curiosity gap is one of the most potent headline formulas. It uses pattern interruption to shock or surprise us, forcing us to click to uncover the reason.

A good tagline for your main page is about getting at the heart of the issue for the customer.

This may be enough for them to go and click on the call to action, which is a Button/Link to a contact page.

You may want to gather more information, but remember too much, and you will turn them off. They understand you need the information to reach them, but do you need all that information that would be great to have but not necessary to start the ball rolling?

On this blog website, I have at the top what I refer to as the navigation tools for the user. Suppose they click on my logo that takes them to the home page. Since some people are text-oriented, I also have a Home link that is text. I also have links to:

  • About – Bio
  • Partial Client List
  • Testimonials
  • Contact
  • Social Media
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram
    • Vimeo
  • Search – to search for topics in my blog

My main website has similar navigation at the top.

I have also created a rotating front page that addresses four main areas where I get hired.

  • Video
  • Corporate
  • Headshots
  • Humanitarian

I am now writing the code to make the contact link in the navigation bar have a colored box around it, as I have on each rotating page where I have a red box at the bottom to learn more about those categories.

I highly recommend using the 3″x5″ cards. Now while you can have a website page that you scroll down through, be sure your main page and all landing pages have the pertinent content, as we like to say, “Above The Fold.”

In the early days of publishing, “Above The Fold” was a term used for content that appeared on the top half of the front page of a newspaper. Today, the fold no longer refers to an actual fold in a newspaper but the bottom of a browser window, or approximately 600 pixels from the top of the page.

Every Page Tips

  • Remember to be sure the title of each page clearly defines what it is about.
  • Have good navigation.
  • Always have text that addresses the customer’s issues and how you will solve them.
  • Call to Action – except on the one page that is the contact page

Lead with those items and then give them supporting material as to why you are the expert on their issues.

Creating Website Part 2

I highly recommend you register a domain name and use this with your website and your email.

I don’t get paid for recommending Godaddy, but this is what I use.

They recently have changed their Logo, so I just showed you some that you may have seen through the years.

I use my name as my URL. If I wanted to create something I would later like to sell as a company, I might have come up with another name. However, if you go that route, you will need to register your business name with your state.

Once you have your domain name, think of it like a P. O. Box. You tell people to send things to it and to reach you to go there. The cool thing is you can keep this URL/POBox no matter where you live. You can later move to Europe and save your exact domain name.

If you get this with Godaddy, email service can also be used. You can pay them for their Microsoft Office 365.

Since you will now have your domain name, you can keep your email address as I have through the years and change providers. I started with CompuServe and have used just about everything you can think of, but all my clients and potential customers all had the same email.

If you have Gmail, for example, you can keep your Gmail email and mask it with your domain name email. If you use Godaddy to set up your domain name and have Gmail, here are those instructions.

Now you know how to create a domain name and how you can also use that domain name for your emails.

This will help you as you start to organize your content for those customers whose problems you are solving or making their dreams come true.

Creating Website Part 1

For more than 20 years, I have been creating websites, and today the process is easier than ever before. I recommend starting with the accessible version of WordPress. But today’s blog post discusses what you need to work on before you click on that link to begin the process.

To have an effective website, you must start at the end, not the beginning.

What are the needs or wants of a customer that you can fulfill?

I have identified “Actors and Business People” as my customers needing a headshot today. The competition is fierce; to stand out, a person needs to look their absolute best.

You may have a few different specialties, but for this exercise, let’s pick one. I am using headshots. Why do those people need headshots?

For Actors, a headshot should show casting directors both the intangibles and tangibles of you as an actor: how you look on camera, your essence, energy, and personality. Casting directors want to see who you are, what you bring to the table, and why you’re worth bringing in for an audition.

For Business People, a headshot conveys your professionalism. If you look professional, potential clients, investors, collaborators, etc., that don’t know you personally will be more likely to agree to that first meeting. A good headshot gives people an idea of your personality before they meet you.

You may need to research your topic. Just go to Google and ask questions like, “Why do I need a headshot?” or “Why do actors need a headshot.”

A fundamental problem and crisis are that not having a headshot makes people need one for their careers.

Once you have that basic need, understand how that problem is for the customer. It would help if you then made the situation even worse. Look at this plumber’s website.

Notice how they take plumber issues and create more of a crisis.

  • FAST

If you go to other plumber websites, they may do the same thing, but do they have their emphasis on being there right now for you? Just a side note, the Pink thing helps them also stand out. You see their Pink Vehicles all over Metro Atlanta. They stand out.

A lot of people have a fear of having their picture made. Maybe in your text, you can talk about how you have a solution to put your clients at ease and make this an enjoyable experience.

We haven’t even looked at the WordPress website page. We are still identifying what customers are looking for to meet those needs. Once we have a clear idea of what this is for us.

Everything is created to help to entice and help those potential customers to consider you as the person they have been looking for all this time.

Customers count on you even more than usual during a crisis. Find that crisis & you have found your business.”

Stanley Leary

This is not the only way to create a company. The other is to be like Disney’s tagline: “Where Dreams Come True.”

“revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone.” 

Steve Jobs

The 2007 Steve Jobs iPhone presentation is probably one of the most outstanding business presentations. The reason is it was rooted in the storyline.

“Today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough internet communications device. So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough internet communications device. An iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator. An iPod, a phone–are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device, and we are calling it … iPhone.”

Steve Jobs

Your customer doesn’t care about a product or an idea unless it solves a real-world problem. Jobs did an excellent job describing the other solutions on the market and how they didn’t provide a good solution. He made all his competitors the villains in the story.

He then went on to demo how the iPhone solved these problems. Steve Jobs was always about simplicity for the user.

FOMO is the Fear Of Missing Out. You create a desire for something that your customer dreams of having.

There you have the key ingredient to a powerful website. Know your customer and what you can do for them to make their life better. If you cannot do this, then everything else in website design is pointless.

Making the Most of a Critique

Bill Bangham and James Dockery review Jennifer Nelson’s story during our Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Chile. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 3200, 1/100, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 28)]

When and if you ever get the opportunity to have your work reviewed by people you respect–Do It!

How you got into this profession will determine how you might proceed. Also, you need to be aware of the perspective of the person doing the critique.

If you are talking to a journalist, they tend to see themselves as the arbiters of truth. They will want you to answer the questions about the story.

These are tips for you to be ready for a review. Let the person who is doing the review do all the talking. They will ask you questions and keep the answers short and to the point. These are some topics that I think will help you be prepared.


  • Who is it about?
  • What happened?
  • When did it take place?
  • Where did it take place?
  • Why did it happen?

Some authors add a sixth question, “how,” to the list, though “how” can also be covered by “what,” “where,” or “when.”

Public Relations & Marketing

I have found that many with a journalism background seem to struggle with the concept of starting with the Audience and not the Subject.

The other aspect of PR & Advertising is a “Call to Action.” Journalists are informing the public, whereas, in PR & Advertising, you are trying to get people to take a specific action. Often it is just to buy this to solve your problem.

Southwestern Photojournalism Conference [NIKON D750, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Manual, ISO 8000, 1/30, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 28)]

First, I think the best place to start is, “Who is your audience?” If you work for a newspaper, you must expand on this and describe your average reader.

If you are working for a non-profit to raise funds, then say this is for our supporters and potential supporters.

Second, can you tell me why the audience should care about this subject?

Third, give me the Five W’s and the H. Tell me the story of the subject as briefly as you can.

Fourth, tell me your call to action for the audience. Now that they have heard this story, what are they supposed to do?

Southwestern Photojournalism Conference – 2016 [NIKON D750, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 2800, 1/100, ƒ/4, (35mm = 35)]

What everyone wants to have to happen with any work in communications is for it to do its job––Communicate. That means when a reader is turning the newspaper or magazine pages, they don’t have you next to them filling them in. The work must do it without your comments.

Southwestern Photojournalism Conference [NIKON D750, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/250, ƒ/4.8, (35mm = 62)]

Listening in on a critique is also a great way to learn if they let you. We all have similar habits that can be corrected.

Southwestern Photojournalism Conference [X-E2, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/500, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 27)]

Another thing to remember is you may disagree with the critique. This is where if you are smart, you will get others to review the work. If others say similar things in their feedback, you need to change, which wasn’t a bad review.

The purpose of getting a critique is to make you a better communicator. Remember, “Iron Sharpens Iron.”

There is a famous group that called themselves the Inklings.

From Wikipedia on the Inklings

The Inklings were an informal literary discussion group associated with C. S. Lewis at the University of Oxford for nearly two decades between the early 1930s and late 1949. The Inklings were literary enthusiasts who praised the value of narrative in fiction and encouraged the writing of fantasy. The best-known, apart from Lewis, were J. R. R. Tolkien and Charles Williams, and (although a Londoner) Owen Barfield.

“Properly speaking,” wrote Warren Lewis, “the Inklings was neither a club nor a literary society, though it partook of the nature of both. There were no rules, officers, agendas, or formal elections.”

Readings and discussions of the members’ unfinished works were the principal purposes of meetings. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet, and Williams’s All Hallows’ Eve were among the novels first read to the Inklings. Tolkien’s fictional Notion Club was based on the Inklings. Meetings were not all serious; the Inklings amused themselves by having competitions to see who could read the notoriously bad prose of Amanda McKittrick Ros for the longest without laughing.

Stanley reviewing someone’s work at the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference [X-E2, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/90, ƒ/4.5, (35mm = 83)]

I have a small group doing the same thing with communication projects today. We are FOCUS—Fellowship Of Communicators Uniting Socially.

Scopophob: Fear of Having Your Picture Taken

Today many people fear having their pictures made. While this is a real phobia, most people have difficulty just being themselves when they know the camera is on them.

Even world-famous singer Adele has this phobia and is reported to have undergone ‘photo-healing therapy’ with a Californian hypnotherapist!

As for the reasons for fear of having your picture was taken (Scopophobia), they can run the gamut from what others may think about the photo to the fear that some part of your soul or spiritual essence will be captured and imprisoned in the camera or picture.

Many things can trigger anxiety. I understand having a little concern about having your picture made with all things that shouldn’t upset us. I think it is normal.

When photographing people, I like to get to know a person. There are many reasons to do this. First, when people start telling me about themselves, they slowly reveal facial expressions that give a peek into their personalities.

If you pay attention, you will see those moments when a person comes alive. I look for those moments and then capture them later while photographing because I paid attention to them being themselves.

New research shows the brain can be tricked into feeling pain relief. It is called neuroplasticity. This is the idea that the brain can change in response to experience.

I find that just having a person concentrate on the answers to my questions makes it harder for them to focus on being photographed. This is me using neuroplasticity to help relax a person.

I was photographing a counselor today, and when we finished, she said, “You Disarmed Me.” She didn’t have a phobia, but the comment let me know she was a tad bit anxious, but we took care of that together. We got some great photos of her.

So, someone or something disarming makes people feel as if they don’t need to use their weapons or powers because they think less hostile, less suspicious, friendlier, and more trusting. In other words, disarming people and things are soothing, charming, or putting people at ease.

I got her mind off of being photographed and just being herself and having a pleasant conversation.

Photography is more than just knowing how to work a camera and lights. When it comes to photographing people, you have to know about them. I guess my social work degree is still being used today. I am using some of those skills to put people at ease in front of the camera.

Love Teaching & Love A Teaching Epiphany

Stanley taught in Lisbon, Portugal, during the first Storytellers Abroad Missions Multimedia Workshop with ABWE. [photo by: Jeff Raymond]

The learning-by-teaching effect has been demonstrated in many studies. Students who spend time teaching what they’ve learned show better understanding and knowledge retention than those who spend the same time re-studying.

Teaching helps bring to mind what we’ve previously studied, leading to the more profound and longer-lasting acquisition of that information than more time spent passively re-studying.


Researchers say that the benefits of the learning-by-teaching strategy are attributable to retrieval practice; that is, the mighty learning-by-teaching strategy works but only when the teaching involves retrieving the taught materials. You need to internalize the to-be-presented material before communicating it to an audience, rather than rely on study notes during the presentation.

In past blog posts, I have talked about the stages of learning. This illustration of the stages would put teaching even above the evaluation step.

Good Teachers Know Their Students

In an interview, Duke Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski talked about the importance of knowing his players.

Mike Krzyzewski [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 7200, 1/500, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 122)]

Coach K: If an athlete knows you believe in them, then when that kid goes through dark moments, they will know they are not alone. We all have those moments, and knowing that others are with you is essential. Our guys know they are never alone because we develop relationships and let them know we believe in them. “I believe in you.” You can say that with just those words, or you can say it in a huddle when you tell a guy, “We are going with you on this next play.” He might say, “I just missed one.” Then I might say, “This next shot is my shot or our shot. Maybe one of the reasons you are missing is because you are taking your shots. You are taking our shot this time, and don’t worry about it. I’m not worried about it.” You put that belief in their minds, so they don’t fear losing.


Great teachers know there is no perfect way to teach a subject to everyone, but there is a better way to teach each student.

Hula Dancer at sunset in Hawaiian [photo by Dorie Griggs] [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 24-105mm f/4G IF-ED, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/2500, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

I first love showing students how I would shoot something like I am doing here in Hawaii.

Brooke Valle Anderson, Hula Dancer, in Kona, Hawaii [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 24-105mm f/4G IF-ED, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/60, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

I quickly have them get hands-on experience working with the lights in the studio and learning how: to turn the lights on, make them sync with the camera, and then create different lighting schemes.

Students in the Lighting Workshop I teach in Kona, Hawaii working on their assignment of a 1:3 Lighting Ratio. [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4000, 1/100, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 24)]

Time to absorb

However, the best learning happens when I leave the students alone in the studio to work on their assignments. They often work in teams. They need a model and a photographer and often use each other, creating the perfect setup for them to teach each other what they learned earlier. Someone doesn’t get a concept and asks their fellow student.

Patrick Murphy-Racey, Sony Artisan Associate, takes a moment to talk with Lily Wang at a workshop about the Sony mirrorless camera system. [Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/250]

The first few times you teach someone, you explain the process and how you understand it. As you experience, your communication didn’t get through to the person; if you are smart, you will realize you were the problem, not the person. As my coach would say about a pass in basketball, it is usually the passer’s fault if the pass is missed.

Patrick Murphy-Racey is a keynote speaker talking about the new Sony Mirrorless cameras at a CIP Meeting at Roswell Presbyterian Church in Roswell, GA. [X-E2, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/160, ƒ/4, (35mm = 27)]

I love listening to other professionals in my field, leading workshops, and teaching seminars. At this point in my career, I am more interested in how they teach a subject than the subject itself. I already know how to do lighting and may pick up a tip or two, but I am learning more about how someone else teaches the subject.

Epiphany Moment with

File Storage vs Catalog

I have been working on creating photography databases for more than 25 years. I have to give presentations all the time, and recently, while I was still struggling with a better way to explain how to embed photos with text to make them searchable, I had an epiphany. Realizing there was an example I could use from our experiences that could help people visualize what is happening inside a computer catalog.

Campus Scenics [NIKON D3, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/100, ƒ/8, (35mm = 45)]

I thought of how we were taught to use a library. Now when you walk into a library, that is very similar to how you store your photos. You put them in folders and sometimes even subfolders. Then these folders of images are placed on hard drives.

Columbia Theological Seminary [NIKON D3, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/50, ƒ/8, (35mm = 24)]

Each photo is like a book on a shelf. If you are familiar with the library, you can go to the science section, fiction, or whatever you are interested in. The problem is when you don’t know where something would be in the library.

The Card Catalog Is Officially Dead | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine

You could go to the card catalog in the library and look up a book by 1) Author, 2) Title, or 3) Subject and find books.

Most people store their images just like we put books on shelves. You need a catalog system if you don’t know where something is located.

Today with digital, you can find any photograph “IF” you have put text into the metadata. Suppose you have a book on the shelf with no pages and just a cover photo and no text. That is what you have in your files today without the text. Just put a title on that book. You can find that book or photo with just the title.


But today, you can search a book’s text if you have it the same way with a photo. You have unlimited text space to bury inside a photo’s metadata.

This metaphor works excellent with those who were taught the library catalog system. They can now visualize that the catalog is separate from the books on the shelf.

So having all your photos on your computer doesn’t make them searchable. You not only need to put text into them, but ideally, you need a catalog software system not just to search but narrow those searches by helping you filter a result. Find all the sunset photos. Then you may check that for all the Summer time photos. You could narrow it to those just from the 1960s.

This analogy helped with my latest client.

“Thank you for your time today! It was extremely beneficial and you did such a great job explaining everything.”

Latest Client Testimonial

Teaching Storytelling

Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers and is traditionally observed on the first Monday in September. I am reflecting today on my privilege to travel the world and see how people work in different countries.

Six years ago, Jeff Raymond, James Dockery, and I taught our very first Storytellers Abroad Multimedia Workshop in Lisbon, Portugal.

Lisbon [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 800, 1.3, ƒ/9, (35mm = 145)]

As much as we taught, we also were learning. We learned from the students what they needed to prepare for the workshop. We knew we had assumed some basics and quickly realized we needed to spell out everything we could in writing.

Before the workshop, participants leave the US to go to an overseas location; their computers are checked out to be sure Adobe Premiere Pro will work on their laptops. We check to be sure there is enough free space on the hard drive to handle the work for the week ahead of the workshop.

Liz Ortiz interviewed her subject with a translator during the Storytellers Abroad Multimedia Workshop in Bucharest, Romania. [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1000, 1/500, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 17)]

For almost every participant, this is their first story where they are responsible for the entire process—doing research, interviewing the subject, editing the video, finding music, and once it is completed, also helping to market it to their audience.

The instructors have years of experience doing this for businesses and nonprofits. We walk alongside them step-by-step to help them in each step. We are coaching them. It is similar to a coach in sports. We are there on the sidelines, helping them and letting them play the sport.

We have created a spreadsheet we put up in the classroom so that everyone can see where they are in the process and each other. We learned that to keep people from falling through the cracks; we would have to be very intentional.

Togo, West Africa [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 7200, 1/100, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 35)]

Here are three instructors with a workshop participant helping them with the storyline. Some problems happened in the process, and all of us were trying to help salvage a story.

Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 110, 1/200, ƒ/4, (35mm = 52)]

Most participants think we are teaching them how to use the software, their cameras, audio, and other tools of the trade. We are teaching all this, but the one thing that is the priority over everything is the storyline and their understanding of how to tell this to the audience. Why should they care?

Cooking in Nicaragua [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4500, 1/100, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

Each time we picked a new location, so many of the former workshop participants would sign up for another workshop.

In that first workshop for a person, it wasn’t uncommon for them to be in tears. The learning curve was so tricky, they thought. What was happening for most of them was a mixture of things happening all at once.

The cross-cultural experience had so many frustrated. It wasn’t just the language but the different World Views that these people in the foreign country had on any topic.

Just Coffee Cooperative [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/80, ƒ/5, (35mm = 14)]

While working on my story, I will never forget each farmer I asked what this Coffee Cooperative did for them. They all said they now had more money.

After a while, I realized I had to ask one more question, which opened my eyes and my audience to what more money meant to them. What can you buy that you couldn’t do before? Edmundo Ballinas Santiago told me on one of my trips to Salvador Urbina, in Chiapas, Mexico, that had it not been for the cooperative, when his wife got cancer, he would have had to choose between selling the farm to save his wife or keep the farm and lose his wife.

This is Edmundo Ballinas Santiago with his family which is part of the Just Coffee Cooperative [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 3600, 1/100, ƒ/9, (35mm = 35)]

Here are a few lessons I have learned since teaching others how to do storytelling. First, you will meet people who will open up your worldview and help you to broaden your horizons.

San Benito, Nicaragua [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 7200, 1/100, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

One of the best things I love is being invited into other people’s kitchens. I wanted to be sure the students saw a typical kitchen in Nicaragua in this village. They needed to see if there was no pantry of food. There was not a spice rack. They didn’t have a refrigerator with things to prepare.

San Benito, Nicaragua [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/500, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

I have encountered many material things without some of the happiest people.

The best thing about traveling and doing storytelling is that the world helps open your eyes, heart and mind up to people who are different and make you look at your own life with fresh eyes.

Roadside cafe in Tenkodogo, Burkina Faso where they serve food, petrol and drinks. [NIKON D2X, Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 400, 1/50, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 27)]

Suppose you are interested in Storytelling and want a coach to work with you as you learn the craft. Contact me. Maybe you can join our next Storytellers Abroad workshop. Perhaps we can do something here in the states. Give me a call, and we can find a way that works for you.

Writing With Light

This is Francesca, helping with the Community Garden in the Agalta Valley region of Honduras. I was covering the work of Honduras Outreach, Inc., a nonprofit based in Atlanta, Georgia. [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 450, 1/250, ƒ/14, (35mm = 22)]

Light is one tool most photographers have and don’t always use well.

Community Garden Francesca Honduras Outreach [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 125, 1/250, ƒ/14, (35mm = 14)]

Now in the best of situations, this just will not work without some help. Dodging the face just doesn’t work as well as just adding light to her face with an off-camera flash.

Community Garden Francesca Honduras Outreach [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 125, 1/250, ƒ/14, (35mm = 14)]

Here is another example that might not be as drastic, but notice the color and dynamic range in the skin tones of the face without flash.

Honduras Outreach Estabian Olancho [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 640, 1/250, ƒ/14, (35mm = 15)]

Now I want those clouds and rich colors, and if I open it up, it will wash out the background.

Honduras Outreach Estabian Olancho [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 500, 1/250, ƒ/14, (35mm = 18)]

Just adding a little flash-off to the side makes a huge difference.

Honduras Outreach Estabian Olancho [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 280, 1/250, ƒ/14, (35mm = 15)]

Here is the boy on horseback with no light on his face except the sun behind him. If we let the sunlight him, then he will squint.

Honduras Outreach Estabian Olancho [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 320, 1/250, ƒ/14, (35mm = 15)]

Now, in my opinion, this is a lot better if you are trying to tell the story of him riding to school on horseback.

Godox V860IIN 2.4G TTL Lion Battery Camera Flash Speedlite for Nikon +Godox X1NT Flash Trigger

This is the setup I like to use. I have a radio transmitter on the camera and a small flash off to the side on a light stand. This is small and travels well when I need to fly through airports.

I love to also use the Flashpoint XPLOR 600 HSS TTL Battery-Powered Monolight with Built-in R2 2.4GHz Radio Remote System – Bowens Mount. These are more powerful and need less time to recharge in sunlight.

What exactly does the word “photography” mean? For those who might be curious, it means “Writing with Light.” Yes, that is accurate. The term “Photo” stands for “light,” and its suffix “graphy” stands for “writing.” 

So if you are a photographer, you are supposed to be writing with light, so learn how to write with light rather than just pushing the button and capturing light.

Artist Kate Saville helping to inspire Chick-fil-A’s team

I was recently asked to photograph modern artist Kate Saville painting a mural in the break room for Chick-fil-A Supply.

The painting she was commissioned to paint wasn’t one of her originals, but she took on the project and brought it to life.

This is the original painting above the prayer couch Truett Cathy would use daily to start his day.

This is the painting above the couch. 

A couple of years ago, Dan Cathy used this painting given to Truett by his daughter Trudy. Chick-fil-A was growing at unheard-of numbers. You think they would be celebrating. 

When talking about the painting, Dan connected his dad’s earlier struggles to what all the operators of the restaurants are facing today.

The year was 2014 when Dan talked to the operators, and today, they have doubled that sales volume.

No goal is too high

If we climb with care

and confidence

The new Chick-fil-A Supply Distribution Center’s leadership team wanted the employees to understand the culture started by S. Truett Cathy.

What better way to help them know the company’s heart than to have an artist paint this mural in their break room? They meet every day for lunches and breaks in this room.

Modern artist Kate Saville is taking a break while letting the paint dry on the wall.

This is a time-lapse of the week it took Kate to paint the mural. 

Listen to Kate Saville talking about her involvement in the project.
Artist Kate Saville painted a mural on the break room wall at the CFA Supply Distribution Center in Cartersville, GA.

Kate signed her work at the end of the project.

Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:8-9

If you want your team to grow, you must cast a vision and make it prominent and visible. I can help you do this. Let me help you tell your eye and record it so that your team sees it daily so that they, too, will know what they are supposed to be doing and why they are doing it.