Crafting an Effective Custom Keyword List for Enhanced Photo Metadata and Searchability

In today’s digital age, visual content is more important than ever for organizations. Photos play a crucial role in conveying information, Whether for marketing, documentation, or internal communication. However, the sheer volume of images can make it challenging to find the right picture when needed. This is where a well-structured custom keyword list comes into play. You can significantly enhance photos’ searchability and streamline your organization’s workflow by tagging photos with relevant metadata. In this blog post, we’ll explore creating your custom-structured keyword list to improve photo metadata and search capabilities.

1. Understand Your Organization’s Needs:

Before you begin crafting your keyword list, you must clearly understand your organization’s goals, industry, and the types of images you’ll be dealing with. Identify the primary categories and themes relevant to your organization. For instance, an e-commerce company might need keywords related to products, while a travel agency might require keywords for destinations.

2. Collaborate with Stakeholders:

Involve key stakeholders from various departments in the keyword list creation process. Their input can provide diverse perspectives and ensure that the list caters to everyone’s needs. This collaborative approach helps in capturing a comprehensive range of keywords.

3. Brainstorm Relevant Keywords:

Gather a group of individuals who are familiar with your organization’s content and initiate a brainstorming session. Encourage participants to think creatively and suggest keywords that reflect different aspects of your visual content. Think about nouns, adjectives, verbs, and location-based keywords that can describe your images accurately.

4. Organize Keywords into Hierarchies:

Group similar keywords into hierarchical structures or categories. This step enhances the organization of your keyword list, making it easier to navigate. For instance, if you’re a fashion retailer, you could have hierarchies like “Clothing > Women’s Clothing > Dresses > Summer Dresses.”

5. Prioritize and Refine:

Not all keywords will be equally important or relevant. Prioritize keywords based on their frequency of use and importance to your organization. This step helps streamline the search process by giving more weight to the most commonly used terms.

6. Consider Synonyms and Variations:

Language is diverse, and people might search for images using different terms. Include synonyms, alternate spellings, and variations of keywords to ensure comprehensive coverage. For instance, if your organization deals with “automobiles” and “cars,” include both terms.

7. Incorporate Metadata Standards:

Adopt widely used metadata standards like IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) to ensure compatibility with various software and systems. This standard includes fields for keywords, captions, and other essential metadata.

8. Test and Refine:

Before finalizing the keyword list, conduct a testing phase. Apply the keywords to sample images and see if the search results match your expectations. Adjust and refine the list as needed based on this testing.

9. Train Your Team:

Introduce your custom keyword list to your team and provide training on using it effectively. Explain the importance of consistent keyword application and its benefits to the organization’s workflow.

10. Regularly Update and Adapt:

Industries evolve, and so do the keywords that define them. Set a schedule to review and update your keyword list periodically. This ensures your list remains relevant and aligned with your organization’s changing needs.

Creating a custom-structured keyword list is an investment that pays off through improved searchability, streamlined workflows, and efficient content management. By understanding your organization’s goals, collaborating with stakeholders, and applying a systematic approach, you can build a keyword list that transforms how your organization interacts with its visual content.

The Timeless Importance of High School Reunions: A Glimpse into the 1973 Forest Park High School 50th Reunion


High school reunions hold a special place in our hearts, serving as powerful reminders of our past, connections, and the passage of time. A recent experience at the 1973 Forest Park High School 50th Reunion underscores these events’ importance for people. The event brought together classmates who hadn’t seen each other in decades, resulting in smiles, laughter, and a flood of memories. This blog explores why high school reunions are significant and why they hold such a cherished place in our lives.

A Joyful Reunion

As the photographer at the 50th Reunion, I had a front-row seat to witness the profound impact of the event. The classmates from the Forest Park High School class of 1973 hadn’t smiled or laughed as heartily in years. The atmosphere was charged with nostalgia, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging that only comes from shared experiences.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

One of the most touching moments of the evening was the 25-minute slide show put together by a classmate. The attendees remained glued to their seats, unwilling to miss a single frame. The slide show, set to music, transported them back in time, weaving together images from their high school years and the various reunions they had enjoyed over the decades.

These images weren’t just photographs but windows into their collective history. The laughter that erupted throughout the slide show was a testament to the enduring bonds that had been formed during their high school years and had persisted through the years. Each photo was a chapter in their shared story, bringing back cherished memories and igniting conversations that had them reminiscing well into the night.

A Reminder of the Fleeting Nature of Life

While the Reunion was filled with joy, it also held a bittersweet reminder of the passage of time. More than 10% of their classmates had passed away over the years. This sad reality served as a poignant reminder that life is finite, and opportunities to reconnect and relive memories shouldn’t be taken for granted. The Reunion underscored the importance of taking the time to savor life’s moments and cherish the relationships that have shaped our journey.

The Power of Connection

The Forest Park High School reunion was a testament to the power of human connection. In an age where digital communication has become the norm, the Reunion reaffirmed that there’s no substitute for face-to-face interactions. The joy that radiated from the attendees as they shared stories, laughter, and even tears was a powerful reminder that proper connections are built on shared experiences and genuine emotions.

Looking Forward

As the photographer at the event, I had the privilege of contributing to creating new memories that will undoubtedly be cherished by the class of 1973 in the coming years. These photos will serve as snapshots of a moment in time, a testament to the enduring power of friendship, and a tangible link to their shared history.


High school reunions are more than just gatherings; they’re celebrations of shared experiences, reflections on the passage of time, and reminders to cherish life’s moments. The Forest Park High School class of 1973’s 50th Reunion showcased the profound impact these events can have on people’s lives. Laughter, camaraderie, and nostalgia intertwined to create a memorable evening that left attendees with hearts full of joy and a renewed appreciation for the bonds that tie us together. So, if you ever receive an invitation to your high school reunion, consider it an opportunity to reconnect with your past, create new memories, and celebrate the enduring power of friendship.

The Power of Personal Branding: Why Headshots Matter for Small Businesses

Personal connections have become more critical than ever in a world dominated by digital interactions. For small companies, especially one-person enterprises, the people behind the brand are what genuinely define its identity. In this era, where authenticity and relatability are cherished, showcasing the faces and personalities that drive your business can set you apart. This is why having headshots of your team members and maintaining consistency as your organization grows is a strategic move that can significantly impact your brand.

Putting a Face to the Name: The Personal Touch

For small businesses, building trust and rapport with customers is essential. Unlike more giant corporations, where the brand name often takes precedence, people play a pivotal role in establishing credibility in small companies. Clients want to know who they’re working with, and having headshots on your website creates an immediate sense of familiarity.

A headshot isn’t just a photograph; it’s a glimpse into your team’s personality, professionalism, and approachability. It adds a human touch to your brand, making it easier for clients to relate to your company. When potential clients can connect with the faces behind your services, it becomes easier for them to envision a partnership with your business.

The Evolution of Your Brand: Consistency Is Key

As your small business grows, maintaining consistency becomes crucial for brand development. Your brand isn’t just your logo or tagline; it’s people’s collective perception of your company. Including consistent headshots as part of your branding efforts establishes a uniform visual identity.

When clients or potential partners visit your website and see a collection of headshots with a similar style and aesthetic, it communicates professionalism and attention to detail. Consistency creates a cohesive image that makes your business appear organized and reliable. The visual thread weaves through your branding efforts, ensuring that your brand remains instantly recognizable even as you expand.

The Importance of Having a Clear Online Presence

Having a website is non-negotiable in today’s business landscape. Your website is often the first touchpoint for potential clients, where they form their initial impressions of your company. Incorporating headshots into your website can transform it from a static page into an interactive and inviting space.

Alongside headshots, your website should clearly state the services you provide. A concise and straightforward description of your offerings helps visitors quickly understand what you bring. Remember, people’s attention spans are short online, so making this information readily accessible is vital.

Crafting Your Message: The Power of Clarity

In the digital age, clarity is king. Your potential clients shouldn’t have to guess what your business does or what value you bring. A clear statement about your services helps visitors understand your offerings and leaves a lasting impression.

Your brand message should align with the personalities you showcase through the headshots. Whether it’s innovation, customer-centricity, or expertise, your letter should resonate with the attributes your team embodies.


In the realm of small businesses, personal connections, and relatability are at the heart of success. The people behind your brand define its identity; showcasing their personalities through headshots adds authenticity and familiarity. Maintaining consistency in your headshots and branding becomes paramount to building a recognizable image as your business grows.

So, do you have headshots that capture the essence of your team? Do you have a website that welcomes visitors with open arms and offers a clear understanding of your services? Are your branding efforts reflective of the personalities that shape your company? Remember, in a world of businesses vying for attention, the power of personal branding through headshots and clear messaging can set you apart and leave a lasting impression.

Mastering the Art of Clamshell Lighting: Perfecting Headshots with a Balanced Background

As a photographer with over forty years of experience, I recognize the power of lighting setups in creating stunning portraits. In my recent venture into headshot photography, I’ve found the clamshell lighting technique invaluable in my arsenal. But what exactly is clamshell lighting, and why did I choose it for my headshot sessions?

The Clamshell Lighting Setup

Clamshell lighting is a sophisticated technique that involves positioning two lights in a manner that resembles an open clamshell, hence the name. The primary goal of this setup is to create soft, flattering light that minimizes shadows and highlights the subject’s features while maintaining even lighting across their face.

Typically, one light is placed directly before the subject, acting as the “main” light. This light is often equipped with a softbox or diffuser to ensure the light falls gently on the subject’s face, reducing harsh shadows. The second light is positioned under the person’s face, acting as a “fill” light. This light helps to fill in the shadows created by the leading light, resulting in a well-balanced and flattering look. As you can see in the setup, I used a reflector for this light.

A Twist on Clamshell Lighting: The Background Game Changer

In a recent endeavor, I stumbled upon a variation of the clamshell lighting technique that has completely transformed my headshot sessions. While the traditional clamshell setup focuses on the subject, I realized that a similar approach could work wonders for the background.

To achieve this, I introduced two additional lights aimed at the background. Now, you might wonder why you need extra lights for the background in a headshot session. The answer lies in achieving a uniform background illumination.

Consistency is Key

When working with a single light source for the background, inconsistencies can arise, especially when dealing with subjects of varying heights or positions. As an experienced photographer, I know that even subtle changes in positioning can result in uneven lighting, ultimately affecting the final shot’s quality.

I effectively eliminated this issue by incorporating two lights aimed at the background. Like in copy work, where the objective is to ensure uniformity, this setup guarantees that the background remains evenly lit from top to bottom and left to right. Whether I’m capturing a tall individual or a shorter one, the background maintains uniformity, adding a professional touch to each headshot.

Diverse Choices and Creativity

One of the remarkable aspects of this lighting setup is its versatility. Not only does it provide consistent lighting, but it also offers the creative freedom to experiment with various backgrounds. I prefer white or light grey backgrounds, creating a clean and professional look. By having complete control over the background lighting, I can ensure that the subject remains the focal point while complementing its features with an appropriate background.

Putting the Setup to Work

Recently, I shared this innovative lighting setup on my Facebook page, showcasing my “office of the day” for headshot sessions. Surprisingly, the post garnered interest from fellow photographers and potential clients. Several inquiries poured in, asking about the reasoning behind my choices and the benefits of this setup.

The journey to perfecting my headshot photography has led me to a lighting technique that highlights my subjects’ best features and brings a new level of consistency and professionalism to the background. With clamshell lighting’s ability to adapt to different angles and positions without moving the lights and enhanced background lighting, I’ve found a winning combination that elevates my headshot game.


In the world of photography, lighting can make or break a shot. With its variations and adaptations, the clamshell lighting technique offers a pathway to creating captivating headshots with even illumination across subjects and backgrounds. As my experience evolves, I’m excited to see how this technique will continue to shape my craft. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share it with fellow photography enthusiasts and clients alike.

No Shame Theatre Night: A Whirlwind Adventure of Creativity, Friendship, and Laughter!

Hey there, friends and fam! 🌟 We’ve got an exhilarating tale to share with you today – one filled with laughter, creativity, and heart. 🎭✨ Despite a recent dental ordeal (ouch!), Dorie and I embarked on an impromptu road trip to the charming city of Columbus, Georgia. 🚗 Why, you ask? Because our phenomenal daughter, Chelle, was set to shine as the host of the No Shame Theatre at the historic Springer Opera House! 🌟

The night unfolded as a cascade of unfiltered artistic expression, underscored by unwavering encouragement. 🎤🎶 If there’s one thing that makes No Shame Theatre stand out, the palpable sense of community and support permeates the space. 🤗🌈 As we settled into our seats, the energy was already electrifying – a testament to the haven cultivated over the past 15 years of No Shame Theatre’s existence.

With her boundless charisma and infectious enthusiasm, Chelle took the stage with grace and gusto. 🎤💃🎉 As the host, she ensured each act adhered to the three simple rules: keep it under five minutes, let your originality shine, and don’t break anything (whether it’s laws, space, or bones)! 😉 And boy, did she handle it like a pro. Her warmth and encouragement were evident in every introduction as she guided performers through their five minutes of spotlight fame.

The diverse array of acts showcased the breadth of human creativity, from uproarious comedy sketches that had the audience in stitches to poignant poetry that tugged at heartstrings. 📜🤣 The beauty of No Shame Theatre lies in its openness – it’s a platform where anyone, from first-timers to seasoned artists, can take that daring leap into the spotlight and share their craft. 🌟

Mike Murphy

And speaking of sharing talents, an exceptional evening highlight was witnessing our daughter’s good friend Mike Murphy perform his stand-up comedy in person for the first time.

Navigating a Dynamic Career Path in Photography and Videography: Insights from a Veteran

As I found myself immersed in covering a corporate event for a valued client, a particular segment caught my attention and sparked a cascade of introspection. This segment focused on the career trajectories available to employees within the company. A panel of seasoned individuals took the stage, sharing their journeys and shedding light on the organization’s abundant opportunities for long-term growth and advancement.

This moment prompted me to delve into my career voyage and contemplate the counsel I would offer aspiring photographers and videographers today. If you’re reading this with aspirations of joining the ranks of visual storytellers, let me be candid right from the start—there’s no longer a paved road to follow. The contemporary landscape necessitates seizing opportunities and proactively knocking on doors to secure your foothold.

In contrast to my academic background—a blend of Social Work and a Master’s degree in Communication from a Seminary—which, while beneficial, isn’t a requisite for this creative field. These degrees paved unexpected doors for me, but the valid key is the enthusiasm to learn and innovate.

Show Boat performance at East Carolina University to open the new theater on April 3, 1982.

I recall my uncle, a seasoned professional photographer with a photojournalism foundation, who later established his portrait studio. My unique advantage was learning under his tutelage. For those without such connections, I wholeheartedly endorse enrolling in photography courses at community colleges or participating in workshops to grasp the essentials.

Yet, theoretical learning only flourishes when paired with hands-on practice. Embark on self-assigned projects, gradually transitioning into paid work while optimizing costs. My journey began with photography contributions to college publications and even serving as East Carolina University’s photographer, bridging the gap between their full-time photographers during my final year.

Unexpectedly veering from my anticipated path toward becoming a minister, I was beckoned into the world of photojournalism. I accepted a modestly paid position at a local newspaper, which bestowed immense growth opportunities. Averaging 4 to 8 daily assignments facilitated rapid learning while navigating film photography’s intricacies. This period was a comprehensive education, from capturing images to processing them—a crucial aspect of the analog era.

Subsequently, I joined the ranks of The Commission, a prestigious magazine competing with heavyweights like National Geographic in the National Press Photographers Association arena. This new chapter involved curating multiple images across numerous pages and learning from another mentor, Don Rutledge.

During this phase, my primary responsibility involved photographing missionaries for headshots and passport images. I traversed conferences, setting up portable studios to create hundreds of portraits daily.

Further down the line, I pursued a Master’s in Communication from seminary while photographing headshots for a portrait studio. This transitioned into managing one-hour photo labs post-graduation.

Georgia Tech later welcomed me as a photographer for public relations, a role spanning over nine years covering research, recruiting, sports, and events. A pivotal juncture eventually propelled me into full-time freelance work—a fusion of my past roles, including photojournalism, sports, recruiting, event coverage, and progressively branching into new services.

My repertoire expanded, incorporating 360 panoramic shots well before cameras facilitated seamless stitching. Recognizing the potent synergy of visual and auditory narratives, I merged photos and audio to craft multimedia slideshows, effectively enhancing client engagement. This evolution naturally led to venturing into videography.

Simultaneously, I engaged in college-level photography instruction, a practice that enriched my knowledge and bolstered my capacity to curate educational frameworks.

Reflecting on my collegiate beginnings, I could never have predicted the trajectory leading me to where I stand today. Remarkably, the sentiment echoed by the panel members at the corporate event mirrored my experience—careers are often a mosaic of unforeseen connections and opportunities.

Several guiding principles informed my journey and can potentially shape yours too:

  • Cultivate a relentless curiosity and an insatiable appetite for learning.
  • Immerse yourself in industry research to identify and connect with trailblazers.
  • Seek mentors, especially if they’re established leaders in your chosen field.
  • Prioritize service—a client-centric approach aligns your offerings with their needs.

As you chart your course, remember that while destiny is uncharted, the journey is rich with serendipitous encounters. Observers are ever watchful, and these moments of observation might just become your next catalyst. Much like Greg Thompson, the Chick-fil-A communications director, unexpectedly extended a 12-year contract to me based on reputation and work quality—your work’s ripples extend beyond what’s visible.

In conclusion, here’s a succinct roadmap to contemplate:

  • Embrace unquenchable curiosity and perpetual learning.
  • Immerse yourself in industry research to locate and learn from visionaries.
  • Foster mentor relationships, especially with accomplished figures.
  • Center your efforts on servicing others, anticipating their needs proactively.

Remember, your journey may take unexpected turns, but the beauty of growth and transformation lies therein. Your career, like an ever-evolving visual narrative, has the potential to inspire and captivate audiences beyond your imagination.

Capturing Unity: Group Photos in the Workplace as a Symbol of Team Spirit

As the summer season wanes and the days grow shorter, a familiar energy fills the air – the start of a new school year. While the back-to-school sentiment might evoke memories of locker combinations and chalkboard lessons, it also serves as a timely reminder for organizations to embrace a similar tradition: capturing the spirit of unity through group photos. Just as sports teams line up for memorable snapshots to commemorate their seasons, companies can also benefit from this practice to strengthen team bonds and create lasting memories.

The Power of a Team Photo

Remember the feeling of standing shoulder to shoulder with your teammates in matching jerseys, ready to face the competition? The camaraderie and sense of belonging experienced during those moments are unparalleled. A group photo in the workplace can evoke the same emotions among team members. It reminds everyone they are part of something bigger – a collective effort with shared goals and achievements.

Why Organizational Group Photos Matter

  1. Fosters Team Cohesion: A group photo represents unity and collaboration, highlighting that each member is vital to the puzzle. When individuals see themselves as part of a larger team, it encourages a sense of belonging and encourages them to contribute their best efforts.
  2. Documenting Team Evolution: Just like sports teams change each season, organizations also experience shifts in personnel and dynamics. A yearly group photo is a visual record capturing who was on the team during a specific period. This documentation can be valuable for future retrospectives and historical references.
  3. Boosts Employee Morale: Seeing their faces in a group photo affirms employees’ importance and acknowledges their role in the company’s success. It’s a simple gesture that significantly contributes to a positive work environment and increases job satisfaction.

Tips for Capturing Stellar Group Photos with Large Teams

Organizing a group photo with a team of 50 or more people might seem daunting, but with careful planning and execution, it can become a cherished tradition. Here are some tips to ensure you get the perfect shot:

  1. Choose the Right Setting: Opt for a location that reflects your company culture and aligns with the message you want to convey. This could be your office space, a nearby park, or a scenic backdrop that resonates with your team’s values.
  2. Schedule Wisely: Find a time that suits most of your team members. It might require some flexibility, but ensuring as many people as possible can participate will make the photo more inclusive and representative.
  3. Communicate Clearly: Share the details of the photo session well in advance, including the date, time, and location. Use multiple channels like emails, internal messaging platforms, and notice boards to ensure everyone is informed.
  4. Consider Staging: Depending on your team’s size, arranging everyone can be challenging. Using platforms or risers can help create depth and allow everyone to be visible in the photo. Strategically position taller team members towards the back and shorter ones in the front for a balanced composition.
  5. Appoint a Photographer: Enlist the services of a professional photographer or someone with photography skills within the team. They can manage the technical aspects and ensure the photo turns out well.
  6. Capture Candid Moments: While posed shots are great, don’t forget to take candid shots during the process. These candid moments can capture the genuine interactions and emotions of the team.
  7. Encourage Team Spirit: Before the shoot, encourage team members to wear company merchandise, colors, or other unifying elements. This enhances the sense of belonging and makes the photo visually cohesive.
  8. Have Fun: Group photos allow team members to relax and bond. Encourage laughter and interactions, resulting in more authentic and memorable photos.

In business, just like in sports, a united team is often the key to success. The start of a new school year is a timely reminder that capturing the spirit of togetherness through group photos can profoundly impact organizational culture. It’s a simple yet effective way to foster team unity, document the team’s journey, and boost employee morale. So, gather your team, pose, and create memories that will resonate for years.

The Ever-Evolving Web: Why Websites are Not a One-and-Done Deal

In the fast-paced world of the internet, where trends come and go, one thing remains constant: change. This holds especially true for websites, those digital storefronts that showcase our businesses, hobbies, and personal brands to the world. In the early days of the internet, creating a website might have felt like a one-time endeavor, but today, it’s clear that maintaining an online presence is a continuous journey. Let’s delve into why websites are not a one-and-done deal, exploring the dynamics of platform updates, evolving technologies, and the personal growth they reflect.

The Shifting Landscape of Technology

Remember the early days of the internet when animated GIFs were the epitome of web design? Those days are long gone. The web development and design landscape constantly evolves, driven by technological advancements and changing user expectations. Platforms like WordPress, which power over 40% of the web, are a prime example of this evolution.

WordPress, known for its user-friendly interface and vast library of themes and plugins, has undergone numerous updates. These updates bring security enhancements, new features, and performance improvements. However, they can also render older themes and plugins incompatible, leading to broken layouts, functionality issues, and security vulnerabilities. This clearly illustrates why treating websites as a one-time project is no longer feasible.

My Updated Website

The Importance of Regular Updates

As the saying goes, “The only constant is change.” Regular updates are the lifeline of a successful website. Just as you wouldn’t expect a brick-and-mortar store to thrive without maintenance, neglecting website updates can result in a digital storefront that feels outdated, slow, and insecure.

Content updates are equally crucial. Just as fashion or interior design trends change, your website’s content needs to adapt to shifting audience interests and market dynamics. Stale content can lead to high bounce rates and a diminished online reputation.

The Reflection of Growth

Beyond the technical aspects, maintaining a website mirrors personal growth and adaptability. Just as your website evolves, so do you. Maybe you started with a simple blog and are launching an online store. Perhaps you’ve refined your brand’s identity or expanded your offerings. Your website should reflect these transformations.

Moreover, websites offer an opportunity to showcase your journey. Incorporating a blog or a news section can document your progress, milestones, and lessons learned. By sharing your experiences, you engage your audience and demonstrate authenticity and the capacity to evolve.

Embracing the Journey

In a world that thrives on innovation, embracing the ongoing journey of website management is essential. Here are a few strategies to keep your website up-to-date and aligned with youth:

  1. Regular Maintenance: Set time for routine checks, updates, and backups. This proactive approach minimizes the risk of unexpected issues.
  2. Stay Informed: Follow industry blogs, forums, and news to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, updates, and best practices.
  3. Test and Adapt: Before applying major updates, test them in a staging environment to identify potential conflicts or issues.
  4. Content Strategy: Regularly review and update your website’s content to remain relevant and engaging.
  5. Design Evolution: Consider periodic design updates to give your website a fresh look and align it with your brand identity.
  6. Future-Proofing: When selecting themes, plugins, and technologies, opt for those with a history of consistent updates and support.

In conclusion, the days of creating and forgetting about a website are long gone. The digital landscape is ever-changing, and websites reflect that dynamism. Just as life demands growth and adaptation, so does your online presence. By embracing the journey of continuous updates, you ensure a functional and appealing website and showcase your capacity for growth and evolution. So, don’t treat your website as a one-and-done project; treat it as a living testament to your journey in the digital realm.

Capturing Moments: The Joy of Sharing Photographs with Loved Ones

Caption: Captured in this photograph is my family gathered at the Kistler House, where my parents’ 65th Wedding Anniversary celebration unfolded – a heartfelt tribute held in the very location that witnessed their wedding reception decades ago. The Kistler House, once the parsonage during my parents’ weddings, also served as my mother’s and her family’s residence, deeply intertwined with their history. My maternal grandfather, R. Knolan Benfield, held the esteemed pastor position at First Baptist Church. From left to right, the individuals in the image are Emma Kramer, David Leary, Bonita Leary, Hannah Poe, and Stanley Leary. [Suzan Mozdzierz Leary helped by taking this photo for us]


In a world where life seems to move at lightning speed, there’s something magical about freezing a moment in time through the lens of a camera. I love giving my photography to family and friends, but with life’s demands, like paying bills and responsibilities, I must find those paying photo jobs. Nonetheless, the moments we capture and share with our family and friends hold immeasurable value, making the journey worthwhile.

My cousins Left to Right: Matt Revelle, Dillon Revelle, Jane Revelle, & John Newsome

The Power of Captured Memories:

Photographs have an extraordinary ability to transcend time, evoking memories that might otherwise fade away. We’ve all experienced the joy of flipping through an old photo album, reliving cherished moments, and reconnecting with the people who have shaped our lives. These snapshots freeze faces, emotions, laughter, and love, allowing us to hold onto them forever.

Four generations in my family. Left to Right: Rebecca Manzi, Emma Kramer, David Leary, Bonita Leary & Adaline Manzi

Special Occasions and Shared Stories:

As we journey through life, countless occasions bring family and friends together – weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and funerals. These moments serve as milestones, marking the chapters of our lives. Photographs become our storytellers, narrating the tales of our shared experiences. Just yesterday, I had the honor of capturing my parent’s 65th Wedding Anniversary, preserving the happiness and love that filled the air. The photographs I took will serve as a treasure trove of memories for them and everyone who joined in the celebration.

My Cousin William Leary and his family. Left to Right: William, Rebecca, Megan & Will

A Tribute to Remembering:

In times of loss, photographs take on a different role. They become a source of solace, allowing us to remember and celebrate the lives of those we’ve lost. This week, my family experienced the passing of my dear Aunt Bessie Leary. Her love for photographs was profound; she used them to connect with the past and remember the people who touched her life. Her story is a testament to the enduring power of images.

This is my uncle Knolan Benfield with his daughter Therese Benfield LaValley and son-in-law Brent LaValley

Preservation in the Digital Age:

In today’s digital era, storing and sharing photographs has become more accessible. Services like Google Photos offer a secure haven for our memories, protecting them from unforeseen disasters like house fires. These platforms ensure that even if our physical possessions are lost, the moments captured through our lenses remain safe and accessible.

My Cousin Carol Leary, Aunt Joyce Leary, Jeff Leary & Suzan Mozdzierz Leary

Don’t Neglect the Classics:

While digital storage is convenient, there’s an undeniable charm in holding a physical photograph in your hands. Printing photos and placing them around your home adds a personal touch, creating an atmosphere of warmth and nostalgia. Moreover, gifting pictures to loved ones can be a heartfelt gesture that touches their hearts and brightens their spaces.

This assembly represents the church congregation where my father was the pastor in Hockessin, Delaware.

A Gift to Our Future Selves:

As the years pass, our memory may falter, and that’s where photographs become invaluable. They serve as time machines, transporting us back to moments we might have otherwise forgotten. Looking at old pictures can spark stories, rekindling the flame of memory and preserving our legacy for generations.

Delighting in moments of connection, my parents found joy in sitting and warmly welcoming the many friends and family members who came to visit them.


Photography isn’t just about capturing images; it’s about capturing emotions, connections, and memories that shape our lives. Despite the demands of reality, the joy of sharing these moments with our family and friends remains a driving force. So, whether it’s a special occasion or an ordinary day, pick up that camera, capture the world around you, and give the gift of memories that will be cherished forever.

Unveiling the Creative Process: Writing vs. Producing a Documentary-Style Story

Caption: James Dockery and Stanley Leary demonstrate to the Storytellers Abroad Multimedia Workshop participants in Lima, Peru, how to interview with a translator and use two cameras.


In storytelling, two prominent mediums have emerged as powerful platforms for delivering impactful narratives: the written word and video production. Both mediums offer unique opportunities to captivate audiences and convey compelling stories. However, a striking disparity exists in the creative process between writing a documentary-style story and producing a video report. This blog delves into this intriguing contrast, highlighting how video production demands meticulous planning and preparation. At the same time, writing allows for greater flexibility and spontaneity until the last moments before publication.

Storytellers Abroad Multimedia Missions Workshop in Santiago, Chile

The Written Word:

A Realm of Fluidity and Iteration When crafting a documentary-style story through writing, the process is characterized by flexibility and iterative refinement. Writers can experiment with various narrative structures, perspectives, and tones as they mold their stories. This iterative nature allows writers to fine-tune their content, making adjustments to enhance engagement, clarify ideas, and evoke emotions.

Imagine crafting an article about a wildlife conservation project. As a writer, you can seamlessly reorganize paragraphs, adjust the pacing, and modify the tone to strike the perfect balance between informative and emotionally resonant. Even moments before publication, you can make last-minute edits to ensure your message is clear and compelling.

Storytellers Abroad Multimedia Missions Workshop in Bucharest, Romania

Video Production:

The Art of Precise Planning Contrastingly, producing a documentary-style video presents an intricate web of challenges that demand careful planning and execution. Unlike writing, where words can be revised at any stage, video content requires meticulous preparation before the cameras start rolling. Once filming begins, the ability to make significant changes diminishes drastically.

Imagine you’re producing a video about the same wildlife conservation project. You must script the narration, plan the shots, arrange interviews, and organize the B-roll footage. All these elements must align seamlessly to tell a coherent and engaging story. While filming, you can’t simply conjure it out of thin air if you realize that a critical interview was missed. This rigid nature of video production necessitates comprehensive storyboarding and scripting, leaving minimal room for spontaneity during filming.

Storytellers Abroad Multimedia Missions Workshop in Nicaragua


  1. Writing Flexibility: Consider a blog post about a historical event. As a writer, you can explore different perspectives and interpretations, refining the narrative until it resonates powerfully with your audience.
  2. Video Production Precision: Imagine producing a mini-documentary about an archaeological discovery. You must anticipate the visuals needed to explain the process and findings accurately, as arranging for additional shots or recreating moments may be impossible once the fieldwork is complete.

Education on the Process:

Understanding the dichotomy between writing and video production can provide valuable insights into the creative process. As an audience, appreciating the intricate planning required for video content emphasizes the importance of each shot, scene, and interview. Conversely, recognizing the fluidity of writing encourages an understanding of the writer’s ability to refine and shape their narrative until the last possible moment.

Stanley filming a church service in Adeta, Togo, West Africa. Photo by Hannah Strayer


In the captivating realm of storytelling, the distinctions between writing a documentary-style story and producing a video are profound. While writing offers the luxury of constant refinement and last-minute adjustments, video production demands meticulous planning and precise execution. Both mediums have unique strengths and challenges, showcasing the diverse ways narratives can be brought to life. Whether through the fluidity of the written word or the precision of visual storytelling, storytellers continue to shape our world with their creative prowess.