The Power of Anticipation: A Photographer’s Journey

This is one of my wife’s favorite photos I took in Garango, Burkina Faso, West Africa. She said the smile of the boy was infectious.


Throughout my years as a photographer, I’ve often been asked about my favorite place I’ve ever been or my favorite photo I’ve ever taken. It’s a question that’s plagued many photographers. I used to search for the perfect answer, often echoing the sentiment of other photographers who would say their next place or next photo is their favorite. But over time, I’ve realized that what truly inspires me is not just the destinations I’ve been to or the images I’ve captured; it’s the anticipation of what’s to come.

The Thrill of Anticipation:

There’s something magical about anticipating a new adventure, a new location, or the excitement of capturing the perfect shot. It’s this feeling of the unknown that fuels my passion for photography. The prospect of exploring new places, meeting new people, and encountering the unexpected keeps me motivated to continue creating and telling stories through my lens. It’s not just about relishing past experiences but eagerly looking forward to the next one.

The Impact of Photography:

While the thrill of anticipation is undeniably motivating, what has had the most profound impact on my life as a photographer is the way my photos touch the hearts of others. Some of my most moving experiences have been when people have shared their thoughts and feelings about an image I’ve taken, expressing how much they love it. What makes these moments even more remarkable is that, in most cases, the focus is not on me as the photographer but on the people or places captured in the frame.

Capturing Memories:

Though I may not have all the notes, emails, or comments in person, I remember those heartfelt reactions to my work. These moments have shown me that photography is not just about capturing images; it’s about freezing moments in time that resonate with people, stir emotions, and tell meaningful stories.

Photos that Touched Hearts:

In this post, I want to share some photos that people have commented on and expressed their love for. These images have left a lasting impression on others and have, in turn, enriched my journey as a photographer.

I photographed the mother and her child at Bon Berger (Good Shepherd) Baptist Church in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Therese Benfield LaValley, my cousin, thought this was one of my best photos ever. Her dad, Knolan, had taught me how to take photos.

This photo shows David Wood’s ability to meet total strangers and connect with them quickly.

This was the editor’s pick for the cover from my Burkina Faso and Ghana coverage. David Wood walked through the Senara town of Dakoro, meeting the village people.
John Toon, Manager of the Research News & Publications Office for Georgia Tech Research Institute, told me this was probably the most published photo in the history of Georgia Tech. Microneedles give painless shots. The smaller the hypodermic needle, the less it hurts when it pierces the skin. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed ways to manufacture solid and hollow metal, silicon, plastic, and glass microneedles that range in size from one millimeter to one-thousandth of a millimeter.
This was one of my family’s favorites of our daughter Chelle during our beach trip to Ocean Isle Beach one year ago.


This is another family favorite that I even sent out as a marketing piece for our daughter Chelle’s first Shirley Temple Drink in Emerald Isle, North Carolina.
This is considered in the top 10 NCAA dunks of all time, and I happened to capture the expression of Engin Atsür just as Isma’il Muhammad soars over him. Sports photography has much more to do with the athlete making some super athletic move, and the photographer gets the credit for being ready for it. 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.
The photos I have taken over the years in our backyard of the Red-Shouldered Hawks continue to get lots of comments, especially from my neighbors.
The male red cardinal in the snow near our birdfeeders had friends asking for photocopies.
Every once in a while, you get to have a photogenic subject like I did with Jane Yandel for her senior Photos. She and her mother loved the photos from the photo shoot.

Lately, my drone photos have been getting lots of comments. I think this is because they are from a different perspective that most people do not see in their daily lives. I love taking these photos because I love seeing things from a birdseye perspective.

While the anticipation of the next adventure and the next perfect shot will always be a driving force in my life, the impact of my photos on others truly gives meaning to my work. The ability to evoke emotions, spark memories, and connect with people through my photography is a privilege I cherish. As I continue this photographic journey, I look forward to creating more moments that resonate with people and tell stories that transcend the frame. After all, photography’s power to touch hearts and inspire makes this journey genuinely remarkable.

Capturing the Essence: The Power of a Photojournalist’s Eye in Brand Building and Storytelling

Caption: (Left to Right in pink checkered dresses) Rose Alo and Judith Zakaria, assistants in the nutrition center, dispense medicine to the mothers at the Baptist Medical Center in Nalerigu, Ghana.


In a world driven by visuals and digital media, the role of a photojournalist extends far beyond capturing fleeting moments. These skilled professionals possess unique talents and perspectives, making them invaluable assets to businesses and organizations seeking to enhance their brand and tell compelling stories. In this blog post, we’ll explore the strengths that photojournalists bring to the table when they collaborate with businesses and organizations and how their training and eye for detail can elevate brand building and storytelling to new heights.

Just Coffee cooperative farmer’s families hang out in Salvador Urbina, Chiapas, Mexico, during the evening.

Authentic Storytelling

Photojournalists are experts in the art of authentic storytelling. They have a knack for finding the heart of a story and capturing it in a single frame. When working with businesses and organizations, this ability to distill complex narratives into compelling visuals helps create a genuine connection with the audience. Photojournalists help brands come across as sincere and relatable, rather than contrived or overly polished, by showcasing real people, real moments, and genuine emotions.

Dan Cathy plays with the children at the Jeanette Cathy Childcare Center. Jeannette Cathy Children’s Center is a daycare and early learning center located at Chick-fil-A’s Support Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Humanizing Brands

Businesses and organizations often face the challenge of appearing distant and impersonal. Photojournalists excel at humanizing brands by documenting the people behind the scenes and showcasing the organization’s human side. Whether it’s capturing candid moments of employees at work, customers interacting with products, or executives engaged in community service, photojournalists create images that bridge the gap between a corporate entity and its audience.

Chick-fil-A Operators celebrate their record profits during their annual meeting in San Diego, California.

Evoking Emotion

Great photography has the power to evoke emotions in viewers. Photojournalists are masters at tapping into this power. They can capture various emotions, from joy and excitement to empathy and nostalgia. By infusing feeling into brand visuals, businesses can forge deeper connections with their audience, leaving a lasting impression beyond the product or service.

The President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, visited President Jimmy Carter at the Carter Center, and his assistant enjoyed getting a selfie with the former president.

Consistency in Visual Identity

Consistency is crucial in branding, and photojournalists understand the importance of maintaining a consistent visual identity across various platforms. They have an eye for style, composition, and color, ensuring their images align with the brand’s aesthetics. This consistency helps reinforce the brand’s identity and make it instantly recognizable to consumers.

Carson Newman biology students receive individualized instruction from their professor Matt Wilkerson, Chair & Associate Chair of Biology.

Flexibility and Adaptability

Photojournalists are accustomed to working in diverse and often challenging environments. They are skilled at adapting to changing circumstances, making quick decisions, and finding the best angles and lighting, even in unpredictable conditions. This adaptability ensures they can deliver high-quality images in various situations, whether corporate events, product launches, or community outreach programs.

Harnessing the foundation of Christian liberal arts, Carson-Newman empowers its students to amplify their voices through the art of film and digital media. Together, students and faculty delve into pressing topics that demand insightful perspectives. Fueled by a fervor for storytelling, we navigate the intricate layers of the narratives we present, engaging in profound conversations about the world’s most complex challenges.

Storytelling Versatility

Photojournalists are not limited to static images alone. They can also incorporate multimedia elements such as video, audio, and text to create comprehensive and engaging stories. This versatility allows businesses and organizations to leverage various content formats for marketing and communication purposes.

Friends enjoying each other during church service at Eglise Baptiste Biblique in Adeta, Togo, West Africa.

Ethical and Responsible Storytelling

Photojournalists are trained to adhere to ethical guidelines when documenting real-life events. This commitment to honest storytelling translates seamlessly into their work with businesses and organizations. They prioritize transparency, accuracy, and fairness in their visual storytelling, ensuring the brand’s reputation remains intact.


Regarding brand building and storytelling for businesses and organizations, the power of a photojournalist’s training and eye cannot be overstated. Their ability to tell authentic stories, humanize brands, evoke emotion, maintain visual consistency, adapt to various situations, and prioritize ethical storytelling makes them indispensable partners in marketing and communication. When harnessed effectively, a photojournalist’s lens can transform a brand’s narrative into a compelling and unforgettable visual journey, leaving a lasting impact on its audience.

The Power of Storytelling: Shaping Culture for Good

Caption: Early Surgical Theaters: In the history of medicine, particularly during the Renaissance period, surgery was often performed in settings that resembled theaters. These early surgical theaters were designed with an elevated platform or stage where the surgeon would operate. At the same time, medical students and observers would watch from tiers of seating surrounding the surgical area. The purpose was not entertainment but education, as these observers were learning about surgical techniques and anatomy.


Storytelling has been an integral part of human culture since time immemorial. It’s a medium that transcends language barriers, connects people emotionally, and has the power to shape societies’ beliefs, values, and perspectives. In today’s world, the influence of storytelling has extended beyond the realms of traditional folklore and literature to impact our culture for good in various ways. In this blog, we’ll explore how storytelling, through mediums such as the musical “Hamilton” and visual storytelling in journalism and documentaries, has the potential to educate, inspire, and bring about positive change in our society.

Into the Woods Performance at Roswell High School

Hamilton: A Revolutionary Musical

One prime example of how storytelling through art can educate and enlighten is the Broadway phenomenon, “Hamilton.” Created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, this musical takes the historical narrative of the American founding fathers and brings it to life fresh, modern, and inclusive. The show emphasizes the immigrant backgrounds of many of America’s founding figures, such as Alexander Hamilton, who was born in the Caribbean.

“Hamilton” sheds light on the nation’s immigrant heritage by celebrating immigrants’ contributions to the United States’ founding. This narrative has resonated with audiences nationwide, fostering a deeper understanding of immigration issues. It reminds us that America’s strength has always been its diversity and that its ideals extend to all who seek a better life within its borders. “Hamilton” has played a vital role in reframing the immigration debate and promoting a more inclusive perspective on American identity.

Defense attorney Robert McGlasson talks with his client Brian Nichols during a pretrial hearing Thursday, March 6, 2008, in Atlanta. Nichols is accused of killing a judge, a deputy sheriff, and two others after escaping from the Fulton County Courthouse in 2005. (AP Photo/Stanley Leary, pool)

Visual Storytelling in Journalism and Documentaries

In the age of information overload, visual storytelling plays a pivotal role in shaping public opinion and catalyzing social change. Journalists and documentarians use the power of images, videos, and multimedia to bring complex issues to life and connect with audiences on a visceral level.

For example, consider the recent headlines on climate change. Documentaries like “Our Planet” and investigative reports by news outlets leverage stunning visuals to convey the urgency of environmental issues. Through breathtaking cinematography and compelling narratives, these stories educate and inspire viewers to take action. Visual storytelling can make abstract concepts like climate change tangible, driving individuals and communities to demand change and adopt more sustainable practices.

A Timely Example

This month’s headlines have been dominated by coverage of the humanitarian crisis in a conflict-stricken region. Visual storytelling in journalism and documentaries has played a crucial role in raising awareness of the situation. By vividly depicting the struggles of those affected, these stories have mobilized international aid efforts and sparked conversations on the need for diplomatic solutions. The power of visual storytelling has been instrumental in rallying global support for positive change in this crisis.

Governor Sonny Perdue signed the water plan and said, “swim kids, swim,” which removes any state restrictions on pools this summer at his office at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Wednesday, February 6, 2008. (AP Photo/Stanley Leary)

Are You Capturing Your Own Stories?

As we reflect on the impact of storytelling in our culture, it’s essential to consider our narratives. We have a unique story; our daily experiences can contribute to a richer cultural tapestry. Are you taking the time to capture the stories of your life and those around you? Whether through writing, photography, or videography, your accounts can profoundly impact your community and beyond.

Do You Need Professional Help?

Sometimes, telling your story effectively requires the expertise of a professional visual storyteller. If you feel overwhelmed or lack the technical skills to convey your narrative, seeking assistance from a professional can be invaluable. Visual storytellers are adept at compellingly framing your experiences, ensuring your message reaches and resonates with a broader audience.


The power of storytelling to impact our culture for good is undeniable. Whether through mediums like the musical “Hamilton,” visual storytelling in journalism and documentaries, or our narratives, storytelling can educate, inspire, and effect positive change. As we continue to navigate the complexities of our world, let’s remember the influence we hold as storytellers and our role in shaping a more informed, compassionate, and inclusive society.

Capturing the Magic: Daytime vs. Sunset Drone Photography with DJI Air 3


The world of photography is an ever-evolving art form, and with the advent of drone technology, capturing breathtaking images has reached new heights—literally! Recently, I had the opportunity to explore the stunning contrast between daytime and sunset photography using my new DJI Air 3 drone. The results were nothing short of magical. In this blog post, I will share my experiences and some essential tips for achieving the best results when shooting at different times of the day.

Phipps Plaza is a shopping mall in the Buckhead district of Atlanta, Georgia. It is located at Peachtree Road and Lenox Road, adjacent to the Phipps Tower office building.

Daytime Photography: Playing with Light

Shooting during the daytime presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The position of the sun and the resulting shadows can dramatically affect the appearance of your photos. Understanding different types of lighting—front, back, and side—can help you achieve distinct results.

  1. Front Lighting: When the sun is behind you, it bathes your subject in soft, even light. This is ideal for capturing vibrant colors and well-defined details.
  2. Backlighting: Shooting into the sun creates silhouettes and adds a dramatic flair to your images. It’s perfect for creating a sense of depth and mystery.
  3. Side Lighting: Side lighting creates beautiful contrasts, emphasizing texture and shape. It’s excellent for showcasing intricate details and creating depth.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the best time of day for photography. It all depends on your creative vision and what you want to convey in your photos.

Using Neutral Density Filters for Daytime Drone Video

For those interested in shooting video with their DJI Air 3 drone during the day, using a 64 neutral density (ND) filter is crucial. This filter lets you achieve a slower shutter speed, making moving subjects appear more natural. It’s a must-have accessory for smooth, professional-looking footage.

Phipps Plaza is a shopping mall in the Buckhead district of Atlanta, Georgia. It is located at Peachtree Road and Lenox Road, adjacent to the Phipps Tower office building.

Sunset Photography: A Magical Transformation

As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, the world transforms remarkably. Sunset photography offers a unique blend of warm, soft, and ethereal light that can turn even the most ordinary scenes into art.

However, flying your drone after sunset requires careful consideration and adherence to regulations. To fly legally during these twilight hours, you must possess a Part 107 Certificate, which ensures you are aware of the safety issues associated with nighttime flying, including the potential for nighttime blindness. The night blind spot is due to the concentration of cones in an area surrounding the fovea on the retina; because there are no rods here, directly looking at an object will cause an object to disappear. Therefore, you must offset where you are looking.

Phipps Plaza is a shopping mall in the Buckhead district of Atlanta, Georgia. It is located at Peachtree Road and Lenox Road, adjacent to the Phipps Tower office building.

FAA Authorization and Altitude Limits

When I decided to capture the mesmerizing beauty of Phipps Plaza at sunset, I had to obtain LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability) authorization from the FAA. This is a crucial step for flying in controlled airspace. I used the Aloft APP to request and receive approval, allowing me to fly up to 300 feet above ground level.

It’s important to note that altitude limits set by LAANC authorizations are absolute values above ground level and should not be added to the height of any structures. This means that, even in controlled airspace, you cannot exceed the approved altitude limit, even if you fly over tall structures.

The mountain on the horizon is Stone Mountain.


Exploring the world of drone photography with the DJI Air 3 has been an exhilarating experience, especially when comparing the results of daytime and sunset shoots. Each time of day offers challenges and creative possibilities, and understanding the nuances of lighting is essential.

Remember, there’s no definitive answer to the “best” time for drone photography—it’s all about your vision and what you want to convey through your images. Whether you’re capturing the vivid hues of daytime or the enchanting glow of a sunset, the key is to plan, prepare, and adhere to FAA regulations to ensure a safe and memorable photography adventure.

Phipps Plaza is a shopping mall in the Buckhead district of Atlanta, Georgia. It is located at Peachtree Road and Lenox Road, adjacent to the Phipps Tower office building.

The Power of Personal Projects: Fueling Creativity Through Ongoing Endeavors


Creativity knows no bounds, and for those who thrive on artistic expression, the importance of personal projects cannot be overstated. Whether you’re a photographer, filmmaker, writer, painter, or any creative, personal projects offer an invaluable avenue for growth, self-expression, and building a compelling portfolio. In this blog post, we’ll explore why personal projects are crucial for creatives and share tips on how ongoing endeavors can help you create impressive portfolio pieces. To illustrate the concept, we’ll dive into the example of revisiting familiar places with a drone, as I’ve done with my new DJI Air 3.

  1. Unleash Creativity Without Constraints

Personal projects allow creatives to explore their ideas and passions without external limitations. When you embark on a project that resonates with you, you’re not bound by client expectations, deadlines, or commercial considerations. This freedom allows your creativity to flourish, resulting in work reflecting your vision and style.

In my case, revisiting familiar places with my drone allows me to capture the beauty of my town from unique angles and perspectives. Without the pressure of a client’s demands, I can experiment with different shots, lighting conditions, and compositions, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

  1. Consistent Growth and Improvement

Creativity, like any skill, requires practice and continuous improvement. Personal projects provide a structured platform for honing your craft over time. When you revisit a project periodically, as I’ve been doing with my drone, you can track your progress, identify areas for improvement, and implement new techniques and technologies.

With each visit, you can challenge yourself to capture more captivating shots, experiment with advanced drone features, or explore different editing styles. This iterative process allows you to measure your growth as a creative and see tangible improvements in your work.

  1. Building a Cohesive Portfolio

A diverse portfolio is essential for creatives looking to attract clients or collaborators. However, personal projects are vital in creating a cohesive body of work that showcases your unique style and expertise. When you revisit a specific project over time, you’re more likely to develop a signature look or storytelling approach that sets you apart from others in your field.

My ongoing drone project, for example, can become a showcase of my evolving skills and style. As I accumulate new footage and refine my editing techniques, I’ll have a rich portfolio piece demonstrating my growth as a drone videographer.

Tips for Maximizing the Benefits of Ongoing Projects

  1. Set Clear Goals: Define the objectives of your project from the start. What do you want to achieve, learn, or convey through this endeavor? Setting clear goals will help you stay focused and motivated.
  2. Create a Schedule: Establish a regular schedule for revisiting your project. Whether weekly, monthly, or annually, consistency is key to tracking progress and improvement.
  3. Document Your Journey: Keep a journal or create a digital record of your project’s evolution. Note your thoughts, ideas, challenges, and breakthroughs. This documentation can provide valuable insights and serve as a source of inspiration.
  4. Seek Feedback: Share your work-in-progress with peers, mentors, or online communities. Constructive feedback can help you refine your project and gain new perspectives.
  5. Stay Open to Serendipity: While having a plan is important, don’t be afraid to embrace unexpected opportunities or creative detours that may arise during your ongoing project. Serendipity often leads to some of the most remarkable creative breakthroughs.


Personal projects are a treasure trove of creative expression, growth, and portfolio-building opportunities. Just as I revisit places around my town with my DJI Air 3 drone, remember that the journey is as valuable as the outcome. Your ongoing project is a testament to your dedication as a creative and powerful tool for showcasing your talent to the world. So, keep exploring, experimenting, and letting your creativity soar through personal projects—it’s a journey worth taking.

Mastering the Lens: Wide Angle vs. Telephoto for Photographers


Photography is an art form that thrives on choice, and one of the most critical decisions a photographer can make is selecting the right lens. The wide-angle and telephoto lenses are two of the most versatile options in a photographer’s toolkit. Each has unique strengths and applications, but choosing the right one requires carefully assessing the situation. In this blog post, we will explore the strengths of both lens types, provide some essential questions for photographers to consider when deciding which lens to use, and discuss depth-of-field considerations.

[NIKON D3S, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/125, ƒ/9, (35mm = 22)]

Wide Angle Lens: Inviting the Audience In

Wide-angle lenses are like magic wands that can transport your audience into the heart of the action. They excel at creating immersive, expansive scenes and are perfect for storytelling, where intimacy is essential. When you can get up close and personal with your subject, a wide-angle lens can capture the emotions, details, and environment like no other.

For instance, when documenting a person’s life, such as a portrait or documentary project, a wide-angle lens can make the viewer feel like they’re with the subject, fostering a solid emotional connection. This lens type draws the audience into the scene, making it one of the most impactful choices for such scenarios.

[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 12800, 1/2000, ƒ/4.8, (35mm = 145)]

Telephoto Lens: Bringing Distant Moments Closer

On the other hand, telephoto lenses are a photographer’s go-to when distance is a factor. They allow you to get close to your subject even when you physically can’t. In situations like capturing a speaker on a stage or an issue at a significant distance, telephoto lenses shine. For example, a 100-400mm lens can be invaluable during meetings or conferences when you need to get closer to your subject without physically intruding.

Similarly, sporting events demand telephoto lenses due to the physical barriers between the photographer and the action. These lenses help you bring distant subjects closer, creating stunning, detailed shots of athletes in action. Moreover, using remote cameras can be a clever workaround to achieve the desired proximity in situations where you can’t be physically present.

A Remote Camera behind the glass on a backboard [NIKON D100, 15-30mm, Mode = Manual, ISO 400, 1/180, ƒ/6.7, (35mm = 22)]

Critical Questions for Lens Selection

  1. What is my subject? Consider whether your subject is a person, landscape, or object. This will influence whether a wide-angle or telephoto lens is more appropriate.
  2. How close can I get? Assess your proximity to the subject. If you can get physically close, a wide-angle lens might be ideal. If you need to maintain distance, consider a telephoto lens.
  3. What is the story or mood I want to convey? Wide-angle lenses excel at creating immersive scenes, while telephoto lenses can isolate subjects. Think about the emotional impact you want to achieve.
  4. What is the lighting condition? Generally speaking, the standard rule is to make the shutter speed equal to your focal length when hand-holding your camera. For example, if you shoot with a 200mm lens, you want to keep your shutter speed at 1/200 sec or above to avoid blur from the camera shake. The Aperture is the other factor in choosing a lens for a lighting situation—the lower the ƒ-number, the better the low-light performance. Usually, ƒ/2.8 or faster is needed in very dark conditions.
  5. Do I need supplemental flash? Consider whether you’ll need supplemental flash to illuminate your subject correctly, especially in low-light conditions. Telephoto lenses may require more powerful flash units at a distance. Also, if you need more depth of field, as I did with the remote camera on a backboard for basketball, then you need to use strobes like I did to light the entire basketball court.
[NIKON Z 9, NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 3200, 1/250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 400)]

Depth-of-Field Considerations

Depth-of-field (DOF) is another critical factor when choosing between wide-angle and telephoto lenses. Wide-angle lenses naturally have a deeper DOF, making them suitable for landscapes and scenes where you want everything in focus. Telephoto lenses, on the other hand, have a shallower DOF, which can be used creatively to isolate a subject from its background, perfect for portrait photography.

In conclusion, choosing between a wide-angle and telephoto lens is not arbitrary. It should be a thoughtful decision based on the specific requirements of the situation and the story you want to tell. By asking the right questions and considering the depth of field, you can maximize the potential of your lenses and capture truly captivating photographs that resonate with your audience. Remember, the lens you choose can make all the difference in how your images turn out, so choose wisely and creatively.

Capturing Resilience and Unity: My Experience at Roswell’s 9/11 Commemorative Ceremony

Caption: Chaplain Dorie Griggs of the Roswell Fire Department stands in front of a ladder truck positioned at City Hall during the 9/11 Commemorative Ceremony on September 11, 2023.


Today, I had the honor of covering Roswell, Georgia’s 9/11 Commemorative Ceremony at City Hall, marking a significant milestone in my journey as a photojournalist. This event was a poignant tribute to the lives lost on September 11, 2001, and my inaugural submission to Zuma Press as a stringer. As I embarked on this mission to document the ceremony, I couldn’t help but reflect on the vital role of photojournalism in preserving the memory of significant moments in history.

A deep passion has marked my journey as a photojournalist for storytelling through images. It all began when I started shooting for East Carolina University’s school paper, where I honed my skills and developed a keen eye for capturing moments that mattered. After graduating, I ventured into professional journalism, working with the Hickory Daily Record in 1984-85. This experience provided invaluable insights into the field, solidifying my dedication to photojournalism. As the years passed, I embraced opportunities to contribute as an AP Stringer and collaborate with the prestigious Black Star photo agency in New York. These experiences were a return to my roots as a stringer for news events, allowing me to continue documenting the world’s unfolding stories through my lens.

Tip 1: Understand the Event

Before delving into my experience, I want to stress the importance of understanding the event you are covering as a photojournalist. Roswell’s 9/11 Commemorative Ceremony was a solemn occasion dedicated to honoring the victims and first responders of the September 11 attacks. This understanding guided my approach to capturing the essence of the event.

Tip 2: Planning and Preparation

To capture this event effectively, I needed a solid plan. I arrived early to scout the location, determine the best vantage points, and assess the lighting conditions. This preliminary work ensured that I was prepared to capture critical moments as they unfolded.

Tip 3: Equipment

As a photojournalist, your equipment is your lifeline. I carried my Nikon Z9 cameras with a 14-30mm, 24-120mm, 100-400mm and my DJI Air 2S drone, ensuring I had options for different angles and focal lengths. I also brought extra gear left in my car just a few feet from the event.

My Submission

Now, let me share what I submitted to Zuma Press, with some insights into my thought process and the stories behind the images.

Mayor Pro Tem CHRISTINE HALL of Roswell, Georgia, provides a timeline of the events of September 11, 2001, while citizens gather on the steps of City Hall to listen on September 11, 2023. [Photo by: Stanley Leary/Zuma Press]

I needed to get the main speaker, Christine Hall, but I also was listening to know what to add to the caption to help tell the event’s story.

City of Roswell firefighters occupy the front row during today’s 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony, while citizens of Roswell, Georgia, gather on the steps of City Hall to listen on September 11, 2023. [Photo by: Stanley Leary/Zuma Press]

343 FDNY firefighters, plus one New York Fire patrolman, were killed in the terrorist attacks, along with dozens of other public safety personnel. I wanted to show the Roswell Fire Fighters and help remind the community that firefighters run towards danger every day to help serve our communities by saving citizens and property.

Roswell Fire Chaplain DORIE GRIGGS delivers the invocation as city council members CHRISTINE HALL, MIKE PALERMO, WILLIAM MORTHLAND, and SARAH BEESON bow their heads in reflection during the 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony. GRIGGS says, ‘We thank you, God, for the work of our first responders, who without regard to their safety work to keep our communities safe,’ reminding us of how our first responders continue to sacrifice for our community on September 11, 2023. [Photo by: Stanley Leary/Zuma Press]

One of the ways Americans coped with 9/11 is through their faith. I was sure to capture the invocation. Invocation is crucial to civic events like 9/11 ceremonies, setting the emotional tone, fostering unity, and providing comfort. Chaplains work diligently to ensure their prayers are inclusive, respecting the diverse backgrounds of attendees and avoiding exclusivity. Their goal is to promote tolerance, inspire hope, and maintain the secular nature of these events, offering solace to those still healing from past traumas while emphasizing shared values and humanity. Dorie is my wife and gave the invocation.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, are the defining moment of the 21st century to date. In the wake of this national tragedy, many people exhibited renewed religious commitment. 

The City of Roswell Ladder Truck proudly flies the American Flag above 9/11 Ceremonies, with citizens of Roswell, Georgia, attentively gathered on the steps of City Hall on September 11, 2023. [Photo by: Stanley Leary/Zuma Press]

The symbolism of the fire truck displaying the American flag over the ceremonies is picturesque and adds a nice touch to the coverage.

City Council Representative SARAH BEESON, Liaison to Public Safety and Communications for Roswell, reflects on the bravery of NYC firefighters on 9/11, highlighting their selfless determination to rescue survivors amid the known risks they faced. At the same time, Mayor Pro Tem CHRISTINE HALL stands to her left on the steps of City Hall on September 11, 2023. [Photo by: Stanley Leary/Zuma Press]

For the photojournalist who isn’t writing the whole story coverage, we usually use a photo with a caption to help tell the story. I included the picture of councilwoman Sarah Beeson because of her comments about the bravery of the firefighters. The image itself isn’t necessary, but with a package and specifically the caption, it makes an excellent photo package for an editor to use for event coverage.

Citizens of Roswell, Georgia, gather in front of City Hall as their community leaders stand on the steps, leading a 9/11 remembrance service twenty-two years later on September 11, 2023. [Photo by: Stanley Leary/Zuma Press]

I thought that taking the time to fly my drone above the event would help evoke The Star-Spangled Banner’s words, “Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight. O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?”


Covering Roswell, Georgia’s 9/11 Commemorative Ceremony, was a profoundly moving experience, reminding me of the power of photojournalism to convey stories and emotions through images. As I submitted these photos to Zuma Press, I hope they will help preserve the memory of this important event and serve as a testament to our community’s resilience, unity, and enduring spirit. Remember the tips mentioned here to all aspiring photojournalists – they can make all the difference in effectively capturing the essence of an event and sharing it with the world.

Capturing the Thrilling Moments: My Experience Shooting the Atlanta Thrashers for the Associated Press


As a photographer for the Associated Press, I’ve had the privilege of covering many events. Still, one of my most memorable experiences was getting the opportunity to photograph the Atlanta Thrashers in action. Surprisingly, when I first stepped onto the ice rink, I had only photographed hockey a few times. However, little did I know that my childhood experiences playing street and ice hockey in New Jersey would prove invaluable. It was a journey that rekindled my love for shooting sports and reinforced the idea that sports photography has much in common with capturing life’s moments.

St. Louis Blues goalie Chris Mason (50) makes a save against the Atlanta Thrashers during the second period in an NHL hockey game in Atlanta, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008. (AP Photo/Stanley Leary) [NIKON D2Xs, 122.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 400, 1/640, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 450)]

Hockey: A Beautiful Challenge

  1. Peak Moments and Scoring: In sports, whether it’s hockey, football, or basketball, there’s a palpable sense of anticipation leading up to a peak moment that can change the game – a goal, a touchdown, a slam dunk. Similarly, in life, some moments can define our experiences. Whether it’s a graduation, a wedding kiss, or a child’s first steps, these peak moments are the equivalent of scoring goals in our personal stories.
  2. Anticipation Over Reaction: One of the critical lessons I learned while photographing the Thrashers was the importance of anticipating moments versus reacting to moments. A photographer must expect the critical moments like a seasoned goalie who anticipates where the puck will go. In life, too, predicting significant events and being prepared can make all the difference.
Atlanta Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec (31) makes a save while St. Louis Blues left wing Steve Regier (41) pursues during the second period in an NHL hockey game in Atlanta, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008. (AP Photo/Stanley Leary) [NIKON D3, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5000, 1/1000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 110)]

The Common Thread: Sports and Life

I discovered that sports photography has much in common with capturing moments in everyday life. It’s not just about fast-paced action and freezing moments in time; it’s about telling a story, conveying emotion, and connecting with the viewers. Here are some tips that I found essential not only for sports photographers but for anyone looking to capture the essence of any moment:

Atlanta Thrashers defenseman Tobias Enstrom (39) of Sweden pushes the puck out from St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) of Sweden. At the same time, Atlanta Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec (31) protects the goal during the third period in an NHL hockey game in Atlanta, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008. St. Louis Blues won 4-2. (AP Photo/Stanley Leary) [NIKON D3, 122.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/1250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 380)]

Tips for Photographers (and Everyone Else)

  • Know Your Subject: It is crucial to understand your subject and its dynamics, whether it’s a hockey game or a family gathering. Study the game, the players, or the people you photograph to anticipate where the action will unfold.
  • Patience is Key: Not every moment is action-packed in sports and life. Sometimes, the most potent images are captured during the quieter, more contemplative moments. Patience allows you to be ready when those moments occur.
  • Use the Right Equipment: Just as a hockey player needs the right gear, a photographer needs the right camera and lenses. Choose equipment that suits the conditions and allows you to capture sharp, clear images.
  • Master Your Settings: Understanding your camera settings is essential. Whether adjusting exposure for a well-lit shot or using a fast shutter speed to freeze action, knowing your camera inside out ensures you’re always prepared.
  • Anticipate, Don’t React: The golden rule of sports photography also applies to life. Anticipate the moments you want to capture, whether a winning goal or a loving embrace. Please don’t wait; make it happen by being ready. If you wait to see a moment, the time it takes you to react it is already over.
  • Embrace Emotion: In both sports and life, emotions run high. Capture the raw emotions – the joy, the frustration, the love – because they make the images relatable and powerful.
  • Tell a Story: Every photo should tell a story. Consider the narrative you want to convey through your images, whether a game-winning shot or a candid family moment.
An ice crew at a Thrashers game on November 30 at the Omni Center in Atlanta. At least nine times every game, the crew must clear the ice of shavings within a two-minute time limit. (AP Photo/Stanley Leary) [NIKON D3, 122.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 5600, 1/1000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 420)]


My time covering the Atlanta Thrashers reminded me that photography, much like life, is about capturing and precisely anticipating peak moments. It reinforced my passion for shooting sports and reminded me that sports and life photography have more in common than meets the eye. Whether you’re behind the lens or living in the moment, these tips can help you capture the essence of any experience and tell a compelling story through your images. So, get out there, whether on the ice rink or in everyday life and seize those peak moments with your camera or simply with open arms.

Atlanta Thrashers right wing Colby Armstrong (20) of Saskatchewan and St. Louis Blues center Keith Tkachuk (7) pursue the puck during the third period in an NHL hockey game in Atlanta, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008. Blues won 4-2. (AP Photo/Stanley Leary) [NIKON D3, 122.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 6400, 1/1000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 390)]

Capturing the Essence of Football: Key Elements for Winning Shots

Caption: Blessed Trinity’s #6 Ryan Davis scored against Hart County during the second quarter of high school football in Roswell, GA, on September 16, 2016. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 102400, 1/1250, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 440)]


As a sports photographer, capturing the thrilling moments of a football game is both an art and a science. To produce winning shots that truly encapsulate the essence of the game, it’s essential to focus on three critical elements: the players’ expressions, the ball, and the intense competition. In this blog post, we’ll delve into each of these elements and provide valuable insights on how to master the craft of football photography.

  1. Expressions of the Players: One of the most captivating aspects of football photography is the ability to freeze the raw emotions and words of the athletes in the heat of the game. Whether it’s the determined look of a quarterback scanning the field or the jubilant celebration of a wide receiver after scoring a touchdown, these expressions convey the passion and intensity of the sport. To capture these moments, position yourself strategically on the field. Many photographers prefer the endzones, as they offer a unique perspective. When covering a specific team, try to face them so you can capture their expressions both on offense and defense. By doing so, you’ll be able to tell a compelling story through your photos.
  2. The Ball: The football itself is a crucial element in football photography. It’s not just an object; it’s the heart of the game. Pay attention to the ball’s movement and interaction with the players to create dynamic and impactful shots. When shooting from the endzones, you can precisely capture the trajectory of passes, receptions, and interceptions. Zoom in on the ball, ensuring it’s in sharp focus. These shots excite your portfolio and help viewers follow the game’s flow.
  3. The Competition: Football is a sport defined by competition and rivalry. The fierce battles between teams, the tackles, and the moments of triumph and defeat are all essential components of the game. To convey the intensity of the competition, anticipate where the action will unfold. This requires a deep understanding of the teams you’re covering and the plays they tend to run. Top sports photographers don’t merely react to the action; they anticipate it. Knowing the players, their strategies, and the game’s dynamics allows you to position yourself for those game-changing moments.

Technical Tips for Success:

Now that we’ve explored the three key elements let’s discuss some technical tips to enhance your football photography:

  1. ISO Settings: Don’t be afraid to increase your ISO settings to freeze the action effectively, especially in low-light conditions. Modern editing software like Lightroom, DXO PureRAW 3, and Topaz Photo AI can help reduce noise, ensuring your shots remain crisp and clear.
  2. Arrive Early: Arriving early to the event allows you to set up correctly, get a custom white balance, and adjust it as the lighting conditions change, especially during night games.
  3. Shutter Speed: Use fast shutter speeds, such as 1/2000 or 1/4000 during daylight games, to capture sharp and dynamic images. A faster shutter speed helps freeze the action, preventing motion blur.

I prefer standing in the endzone using longer lenses, like 400mm to 600mm [see photo on left]. You can stand as well and most likely will have to unless the team is in the red zone with shorter focal lengths like 200mm or 300mm lenses [see photo on the right].


Football photography is an exhilarating endeavor that combines artistry and technical skill. By focusing on the players’ expressions, the ball, and the fierce competition, you can create images that truly encapsulate the essence of the game. Remember to be technically prepared, anticipate the action, and arrive early to capture those winning shots that will leave a lasting impression on your audience. With dedication and practice, you can become a master of football photography, telling the captivating stories of the gridiron through your lens.

Capturing Success: How Opportunity and Preparation Define a Photographer’s Journey

Introduction: One quote stands out in photography as a timeless guiding principle: “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” Zig Ziglar’s words ring true for photographers seeking to excel in their craft. This powerful mantra underscores the importance of being ready when the right moment arises. In this blog post, we will delve into three essential aspects of a photographer’s journey where preparation and opportunity intersect: Technical, Marketing, and Mental and Emotional Preparation.

Technical Preparation: Gear Matters

In photography, technical skills and equipment go hand in hand. To be prepared for opportunities that may come your way, it’s crucial to have the right gear and the proficiency to use it effectively.

  • Investment in Gear: Quality cameras, lenses, tripods, and lighting equipment are the tools of the trade. Ensure you have the equipment for various situations, whether portrait, landscape, or macro photography.
  • Practice and Mastery: Knowing your equipment inside out is key. Practice with your gear regularly, experimenting with different settings and techniques. This ensures you can adapt quickly when opportunity knocks.
  • Maintenance and Backup: Regularly maintain your gear and have a backup plan. You never know when a piece of equipment might malfunction; being prepared with a backup can save a shoot.

Marketing and Business Preparation: Seizing Opportunities

In the digital age, photography is not just about taking stunning photos but also about marketing your work and managing your photography business effectively.

Storytellers Abroad Workshop Bucharest, Romania Herăști, Giurgiu, Romania
  • Online Presence: Create and maintain a strong online presence through a professional website and social media profiles. Showcase your best work to attract potential clients and collaborators.
  • Networking: Build and nurture relationships within the photography community and related industries. Networking can lead to opportunities that you may not have encountered otherwise.
  • Business Strategy: Develop a clear business plan, including pricing strategies, contracts, and financial goals. Being prepared on the business front ensures you can capitalize on opportunities to grow your photography career.

Mental and Emotional Preparation: Staying Resilient

Photography is not just about capturing images; it’s also about navigating the emotional and mental challenges of the craft.

  • Creativity and Inspiration: Foster your creativity and stay inspired by exploring different genres of photography and seeking new perspectives. Be prepared to adapt and evolve as an artist.
  • Handling Rejection: Rejection is a part of the journey. Prepare yourself mentally to handle setbacks and rejection, using them as opportunities for growth.
  • Self-Care: Photography can be demanding physically and mentally. Prioritize self-care and mental well-being to stay prepared to tackle challenges head-on.

In conclusion, Zig Ziglar’s quote, “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation,” is a guiding light for photographers. Whether it’s technical proficiency, business readiness, or emotional resilience, being prepared in these three crucial aspects will enable you to seize opportunities and thrive in the ever-evolving world of photography. So, gear up, market smart, and fortify your mind – success awaits the prepared photographer.

A Surprise Victory: Winner of Best Photographer in North Atlanta

Have you ever experienced a moment that left you speechless? A moment where you were completely caught off guard, not expecting any recognition, only to find out that you had won a prestigious award? Well, that’s precisely what happened to me when I was named Best Photographer for North Atlanta by the Appen Media Group. Let me take you through this incredible surprise and share the valuable lessons I’ve learned.

The Unexpected Win

It all began with a simple notification that popped up on my phone. I had not entered any contest, let alone heard about one, but there it was – a message congratulating me on winning Photographer of the Year for North Atlanta. I was in disbelief; how could this happen when I hadn’t even participated in the competition?

Building My Brand, One Click at a Time

As a photographer, building a personal brand is an ongoing process. Every project I undertake is not just a job; it’s an opportunity to showcase my skills and creativity. Little did I know that my dedication to my craft and clients would lead to this unexpected honor. Looking back, I realize that the key to my nomination was the trust and support of my clients. They appreciated my work so much that they nominated me for this prestigious award. It’s a testament that in today’s digital age, word of mouth and client recommendations can be more powerful than any marketing strategy.

The Two-Part Selection Process

During this journey, I discovered that the Best of North Atlanta contest had two distinct phases: the nomination period and the voting round. During the nomination period, readers of the Herald Newspapers and the general public could nominate their favorite businesses and individuals in various categories, including photography. Then, the top nominees advanced to the voting round, where people could vote for their favorites.

A Priceless Moment: Friends and Clients’ Support

Winning was undoubtedly an exhilarating moment, but what truly touched my heart was knowing that friends and clients had voted for me and nominated me. The support from those who had seen my work firsthand was priceless. It reinforced the idea that my work had made a lasting impression on them, enough to motivate them to take the time to nominate and vote for me. For any freelancer or entrepreneur, this kind of affirmation greatly boosts your confidence and motivation.

Marketing vs. Doing the Work

One valuable lesson from this experience is the stark contrast between marketing efforts and the actual work itself. As freelancers or entrepreneurs, we often wonder whether our marketing strategies are making a difference. We may have loyal clients who love our work, but sometimes, the market may not provide steady opportunities. This experience reminded me that effective marketing requires time and consistent effort. Your clients might not always have work for you, but if they believe in your abilities and are willing to recommend you to others, it speaks volumes about the impact of your branding and reputation.

Tips for Others

  1. Consistency is Key: Building your brand and reputation takes time and persistence. Keep refining your skills and delivering exceptional work with every project.
  2. Engage with Your Clients: Foster strong relationships with your clients. Their support and referrals can be an influential asset in your career.
  3. Embrace Unexpected Opportunities: Sometimes, the best things happen when you least expect them. Be open to unexpected opportunities and be ready to seize them.
  4. Don’t Underestimate Word of Mouth: In today’s digital world, word of mouth still carries immense weight. Treat every client like they could be your next referral.
  5. Keep Marketing Efforts Consistent: Don’t neglect your efforts during slow periods. Your brand should always be visible to potential clients.

In conclusion, my journey from unaware nominee to Photographer of the Year for North Atlanta was nothing short of a thrilling surprise. It’s a reminder that the hard work, dedication, and passion we put into our craft can lead to incredible recognition when we least expect it. So, keep building your brand, doing the work you love, and never underestimate the power of your clients and supporters. You never know when your moment of surprise and celebration will arrive.

Equipping Yourself for Success: The Importance of Experience and Assertiveness in Your Career


Success is often associated with fame, fortune, and prestige in entertainment and storytelling. Many aspiring individuals are eager to step into the producer/director role, dreaming of creating cinematic masterpieces that captivate audiences worldwide. While the allure of the spotlight is undeniable, it’s crucial to remember that being willing to serve is not enough; you must also be equipped for the journey ahead. In this blog post, we’ll explore the vital role of assertiveness and the significance of gaining real experience in your career. Let’s delve into why these factors are critical to your success and how to cultivate them over a lifetime.

Lennox Boodram – a ministry partner saved from drug and alcohol addiction, runs a Christian drug and family rehab center (Turning Point)that has been operating for the past five years. He is talking with some of the students from Cedarville University taking the workshop this week in Trinidad.

The Essence of Assertiveness:

Being in a producer/director role requires you to know how to be assertive. It’s a quality often acquired after many years in the business. Assertiveness is not about being domineering or controlling; instead, it’s about confidently expressing your ideas and making decisions that benefit your projects. In the realm of communications, it took many years of projects to realize that if you don’t speak up (i.e., be assertive), failure or, at the very least, lower-quality outcomes are likely to occur.

Assertiveness is a skill that can be honed over time. It involves communicating your vision, standing your ground when necessary, and collaborating effectively with others. It’s a delicate balance that requires practice and self-awareness.

Experience vs. Exposure:

Both the concepts of assertiveness and gaining experience are rooted in the understanding that exposure alone won’t cut it in your career. Many individuals are eager to be exposed to the glitz and glamour of the industry, but true success comes from deep and meaningful experience. Exposure may give you a glimpse into the industry, but experience allows you to serve your clients and create a lasting impact.

Storytellers Abroad Brazil

My Role as a Storyteller:

As someone in the role of a storyteller, I’ve realized that assertiveness is a crucial component of my work. Developing this skill took years of working on various projects, wearing different hats, and navigating the industry’s complexities. The ability to assertively convey the narrative’s essence, work with the character of the story and the client, and handle unforeseen challenges is something that can’t be rushed.

Tips for a Lifelong Career:

Now that we’ve established the importance of assertiveness and authentic experience let’s discuss some tips on how to create a career that lasts a lifetime rather than aiming for overnight success:

  1. Embrace Variety: Don’t be afraid to explore different roles within your field. Each part offers unique insights and experiences that contribute to your growth.
  2. Learn from Mistakes: Failure is an essential part of the learning process. Embrace your mistakes, analyze them, and use them as stepping stones toward improvement.
  3. Seek Mentorship: Connect with experienced professionals who can offer guidance and share their wisdom. Their insights can help you navigate the industry’s challenges more effectively.
  4. Stay Current: The entertainment industry is constantly evolving. Stay up-to-date with the latest trends, technologies, and storytelling techniques to remain relevant and innovative.
  5. Be Patient: Success often takes time. Avoid rushing your journey and focus on continuous improvement.
Stanley is taking pictures in the classroom Storyteller’s Abroad planning trip in Lima, Peru. Photo by Jeff Raymond


In entertainment and storytelling, assertiveness and genuine experience is the key to serving your clients effectively and building a lasting career. Remember that success is a journey, not a destination. Embrace the process, keep learning, and be prepared to evolve with the industry. By following these tips and committing to lifelong growth, you’ll be better equipped to make a lasting impact in your chosen field.