I am a Volunteer for our Roswell Fire Department

This is some of the leadership for Roswell Fire Department in front of their brand new ladder truck. [NIKON Z 9, 14-24mm f/2.8G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 250, 1/200, ƒ/6.3, (35mm = 14)]

First, I am not a Volunteer Fireman. I do not have those skills or knowledge.

I do have my photography/video skills to donate. I think everyone needs to find something to be involved in as a way that they give back to society. Volunteering some of my time and photography skills is one of those things I do.

Chaplain Dorie L. Griggs [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/200, ƒ/3.5, (35mm = 85)]

My wife is the chaplain for the Fire Department. I have been showing up at events and taking photos to support my wife and the Roswell Fire Department since 2017. My first event was Roswell Fire Department’s Ole Timers’ Dinner, where they have sponsors in the community who put on the event.

Roswell Fire Department Ole Timers’ Dinner [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/100, ƒ/10, (35mm = 24)]

I have watched as leadership has changed, and the Fire Department is changing from part-time firefighters who have full-time jobs in neighboring communities going to move to full-time staff. We have been lucky that no significant disasters like a tornado, flood, or hurricane have created a crisis for our community and those around us. If that happened, we wouldn’t have enough firefighters since their priority would be their full-time jobs.

Roswell Fire Department Ole Timers’ Dinner [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/100, ƒ/8, (35mm = 24)]

I have done many different group photos.

Crisis Training Graduation Group Photo [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/100, ƒ/8, (35mm = 24)]

When Dorie had her installation service, Fire Trucks drove by and even blasted their sirens for Dorie. They have done similar drive-bys for others in our community for different milestones in our people’s lives.

We are part of the family of firefighters, for sure.

That is what happens with the organizations that you decide to volunteer your time and talents in your community. They help you connect and extend your family. This is how we serve one another.

Here are some photos I have taken lately for the Roswell Fire Department.

Find your place to serve your community. Find your place to connect and find community.

Grammarly Helped With My Asperger’s Syndrome

Communication skills are one of the core issues for those with Asperger’s syndrome.

Given these difficulties with language, one might predict that individuals with Asperger’s syndrome are likely to struggle in composing written text. Current research suggests that writing is difficult for individuals with Asperger’s syndrome.

I struggled with writing and specifically grammar. I need a good copy editor.

Early in my life, I was tested and was believed to be on the autism spectrum. Since this was in the 1970s and high functioning, they didn’t do anything about it.

It wasn’t during my time studying social work at East Carolina University, but rather when my sister was doing her masters in social work there that she thought I might have autism.

This was in the late 1990s that I started to research and read more and more about Asperger’s Syndrome. I felt like this described many of my struggles in life.

Grammarly advertising popped up on my social media feed in the past couple of weeks.

I tried the free version, which was doing a much better job of helping catch my grammar mistakes than Microsoft word or any other software had done up to now.

I decided to try the paid version. The first thing I started to do with it was to revisit all my blog posts. I knew they could use some help. I couldn’t justify paying someone to copy-edit every blog post, even if that would have been best.

I have rewritten four years of blog posts, plus a few more popular posts from way back.

As long as you have an internet connection, the software works great. I have it helping with my social media posts as well.

This may be one of the best software programs I have come across.

While I can do an OK job of communicating, I needed a copy editor to help polish my writing. I now have that in Grammarly.

Relatable Helps With Engaging

If you can get people to see themselves in the story you put forward, you have engaged them in the story.

This skill isn’t about you. This is about something great storytellers possess.

The great storytellers are bridge builders.

Bridge builders are people who create relationships that cut across the lines of conflict. No matter their occupation, anyone can help forge ties across borders, cultures, religions, etc. Bridge builders help establish relationships, improve communication, and build trust between conflicting people and groups.

Honduras Outreach

Communicators know how to pull you into the story using words and visuals. Some photos, phrases, or sentences give details to round out the story.

Cooking in Nicaragua

Capturing people doing what others do around the world is something that connects across borders, cultures, religions, etc. One place I think people connect quickly in the kitchen.

Children of the coffee farmers with Just Coffee in Salvador Urbina, Chiapas, Mexico. [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 400, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 102)]

Children playing is another way we connect. I like to get on the ground and be at eye-level with the kids. It puts the audience on that same level. The audience becomes their height. For adults, it is like transporting them back to childhood.

Mother and her little boy carried in kitenge. They are staying here at the Hôpital Baptiste Biblique in Tsiko, Togo, West Africa.

Parents love to show off their children and love it when someone [the photographer] is showing appreciation for their children and their bond with them.

Rose Nantonah, the nurse, is setting the IV with a minor child patient at the Baptist Medical Center in Nalerigu, Ghana.

Whenever I am in a hospital, I look for moments where care is being lovingly given, but you can still sense the pain the patient is struggling to get well.

Northeast 8th Street

Since this isn’t the audience’s story, they see elements in the story that they can relate to. Maybe like these tents at a grand opening of the first Chick-fil-A in Seattle, Washington. They relate to the excitement of camping. The story has introduced some new twists to the way they go camping. Instead of in the woods, this is in a city’s parking lot.

Those who have helped pull the stories out of people understand why you may have spent lots of time gathering the content; distilling this into something digestible and engaging is where the bridge building takes place.

Lighting & Timing = Ninja!

Photography is used in training for corporations. Companies have learned that step-by-step instructions with visuals help improve compliance.

Now, these photo shoots are so detailed oriented.

[NIKON Z 9, 35mm f/1.4G, Mode = Manual, ISO 64, 1/100, ƒ/11, (35mm = 35)]

Even my clients know how stale this can be when teaching procedures. These photos are so important. These photos teach how to put on and take off PPE so that major problems are avoided.

[NIKON Z 9, VR 24-105mm f/4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/500, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

Teams of writers, producers, camera crews, and compliance officers are present at these video & photo shoots.

These videos and printed materials are used in workshops teaching teams how to prevent contamination.

To make the workshops a little more fun, we look for ways to introduce some excitement.

[NIKON Z 9, 35mm f/1.4G, Mode = Manual, ISO 64, 1/80, ƒ/11, (35mm = 35)]

During my latest photo shoot, the models were also those who did the training. They wanted to capture some of them doing different Ninja poses in their presentations. Both of the models were athletic. One played sports like basketball, and the other was a dancer. This made the action photos possible.

[NIKON Z 9, VR 24-105mm f/4G, Mode = Manual, ISO 64, 1/160, ƒ/9, (35mm = 48)]

One of the models had studied biology in college and had wanted to be a teacher. She was helping us refine the photos needed for the project because she had to teach these steps herself and wanted the images to help her clients. After we shot a few products, I told her that she was doing the teaching she had wanted to do early on. The difference was that she was teaching adults and not children.

[NIKON Z 9, 35mm f/1.4G, Mode = Manual, ISO 64, 1/125, ƒ/9, (35mm = 35)]

Those teachers that made learning fun were the ones doing like these trainers and introducing their Ninja moves to make the subject a little more fun.

[NIKON Z 9, 35mm f/1.4G, Mode = Manual, ISO 64, 1/125, ƒ/8, (35mm = 35)]

With various media competing for people’s attention, teachers who employ acting techniques have a better chance of engaging their audience.

One person on a project doesn’t always do creativity. In this case, it was a mixture.

Georgia Tech’s #2 Isma’il Muhammad slams one early over NC State’s #14 Engin Atsür during play at the Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 13, 2005.

I have more than 40+ years of shooting sports. Getting peak moments is core to a great sports photo. Shooting basketball, I shot using strobes. This meant I only could shoot one shot and then wait three to four seconds before I could click the shutter again. The strobes needed to recycle and be ready to fire again.

Freezing people in the air is about anticipation.

While clients hire me to shoot something as simple as a detailed photo in a training program, they get all my experience on the job. So, when we want to do something spur of the moment, I bring all those years of experience to the idea.

Creativity takes everyone to execute to make what we dream about a reality.

Was That Necessary?

Do you remember your teachers when you were younger pointing out to you or someone else, “If you can’t find something nice, then don’t say anything at all?”

There are other variations of decorum we have been taught, and sadly, many adults need to be reminded.

Just the other day, I heard a wife giving her husband talking.

“Were your comments necessary? Did they uplift anyone? If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything. Did you hear me?”

The person who attempts to ‘one up‘ you in a conversation is a person who needs admiration and adoration from you and your other listeners. They will use this tactic to show others that they know more than you, which is demeaning.

Don’t respond. Just listen and watch. In time to come, people will want to interact with you only because you have been gracious all the while to let this narcissist have their way.

You don’t need to spar with PIGS. You are a high-value, gracious person. You are not the same as that desperado who constantly needs attention and admiration.

What’s Their Problem Not Yours

Don’t ever be the person who thinks you can say whatever you want and not care how it impacts others.

The hardest thing to do sometimes is not to comment. You may have a bright mind and intellectual capacity beyond many people, but be very careful, or you can become condescending.

How often do people ask for your opinion as compared to how often you offer it without people asking?

We are all just the same as when we were kids. We want to have fun together. We all love to learn.

Squirrel moment

The squirrel moment is when you suddenly start talking or thinking about an entirely new subject or pursuing a somewhat related or irrelevant course while neglecting the main issue.

In most communication, a person moves from point A to point B. If how they communicate doesn’t change the audience following them from point A to point B, then any comment by another person is a “Squirrel Moment.”

If someone is telling people about a great restaurant and where it is located, adding a comment that it is a great restaurant, but they are closed on Monday so going any other day is helpful. You are adding to the conversation.


However, jumping into the conversation to say it isn’t an excellent restaurant is a way of just putting down the other person’s comments.

With A Client – It Can Wait

The most challenging conversations I deal with where I cannot just walk away are with customers and prospects.

Before I can get a job, most of the time, I must put in a bid on that job. I find that clients are often not interested in discussing a project, and you cannot just give people a bottom line price without managing those expectations of what they are getting for that price.

My work isn’t a commodity in most situations where the lowest price always gets the job.

My product is very customized, so the price is often difficult to compare to another creative.

Are You Leading or Being Led?

Finding your creativity is a journey. It also isn’t a linear journey. It is more cyclical where you get bursts of new content that are often followed by a time of searching.

Our lives are not a trajectory that continues to build on past experiences leading us up a large stairway.
Creativity is more about doing something new and different. Most ideation isn’t born in a vacuum. We draw from our environment, experiences, and others our new ideas.

While early in our career, we are inspired by others and will copy their work until we learn the skills necessary to reproduce that style. During that process, we slowly put our spin on that skill set. We try putting our spin on the other’s art and create something new.

No longer linear trajectory

While we grow in some form of a trajectory that shows progress, we often revisit the process of taking what exists around us and copying it, then modifying it to find our way of expressing something in our hearts, minds, and soul.

When you have those breakthrough moments and people notice, you are often copied by other creatives for the same reason you copied others to develop something new.

Actions to take

The key to the creative process is to ensure you add yeast to the ingredients. This is where you cause fermentation and leavening. Fermentation is the process of breaking down the components.

Let’s say you notice a photographer’s work and want to try and duplicate it. You take the time to study the work.

What lens did they use? How did they light it? What are they doing in the post process to get that look?


Leavening is when you are modifying or transforming it for something better.

That is how you become a leader or expert as a creative.

Now, if you are copying other artists’ work and never creating something new, you are just being led. You are not creative. You are a commodity.

Those needing a nice headshot will call you. As long as you are priced like most others in the marketplace, you will be getting work.

Others who recognize creativity and are looking for someone to help them take their brand to the next level will not look to you. You are the vanilla in the creative field.

While trying to always come up with something new is good to keep yourself interested in your work, remember that this helps you create your niche.

More Than A Product

What is just as important to realize is that creativity isn’t limited to your product [photos]. How you treat people is something that shows just as much creativity. The more you WOW people with your service you also separate yourself from the crowd.

Study brands that are known for their service. Copy them and then put your spin on them and do something that adds more to creating a unique experience for your clients.

Thinking you have arrived are being led by others in the industry. Recognizing clients are leaving them is essential. Copying other brands to keep clients is a short-term solution. Other creatives are not seeking them out or copying them. They are selling their product and pricing.

Leaders in the creative field are always looking for a way to improve or at least do something new and different.

Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water!

What I notice about the big brands is they have the signature products they continue to produce that keep their clients happy. Then they have new products. Often these are limited-time offers. These are the things that keep things fresh and exciting for your clients. They may try some of these, but they let your clients know you are constantly innovating.

Be a leader – Embrace change!