Monday Devotional: Importance of community

Matriculation Day 2017 at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.8, 1/500]
Each year a new class of cadets starts a new at The Citadel. They come in many of them being self reliant and many do already understand the importance of community, but the process of the Knob year for the cadets is to integrate them into the corp of cadets.

“Do you think the Clemson students are going through this today?,” I over heard some people as they watched the incoming freshman [knobs] moving into their dorms and getting oriented by the upper classmen officers of the Cadre.

My wife, Dorie Griggs, has been writing a blog for Citadel parents ever since our son was a student. He graduated in 2011. We decided to drive down to Charleston, SC and help some of the parents as they dropped off their sons and daughters.

[Nikon D5, 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/1250]
Each year parents of older cadets help the new parents and incoming knobs move into their rooms. This is the paying it forward that they feel so compelled to do after their move in experience the first year at The Citadel.

The Citadel Family Association helps identify all these upper classmen parents with the blue shirts.

[Nikon D5, 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/3200]
Before 7:00 am parents with their cadets are all lined up around the Alumni Center where they find out which company their young cadet will be assigned. We helped one student who flew from California and needed help getting to campus.

After they have their assigned company they drive to the barracks where the cadet goes in and in the middle of the quadrangle meets the officers who will start the same process of all military organizations. You learn that you will be yelled at right away and learn to follow orders.

[Nikon D5, 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/2000]
At each and every station you go to there is another officer who gets your attention and asks you many questions or to do certain things which you find out you are not doing correctly.

The good news is that each of the officers were in those new cadets shoes just a short time ago. They remember how it felt. However, they have been through the training and understand the process works to build a cohesive corp of cadets.

it is Matriculation Day 2017 at The Citadel. Here each student goes from one line to another throughout the day. These are the student officers who will train the Knobs. They are part of the cadre. [Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/1600]
They will learn to be in step with the corp of cadets. They will learn to hear just the voice of their commanding officer. They will learn to rely on each other.

It is Matriculation Day 2017 at The Citadel. Here each student goes from one line to another throughout the day. These are the student officers who will train the Knobs. They are part of the cadre. [Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/7.1, 1/125]
As I looked around I watched the cadre interacting with each other and the knobs. You see there are friendships between them. You see the family that they have become away from their homes.

It is Matriculation Day 2017 at The Citadel. Here each student goes from one line to another throughout the day. Here the new student reports to the sergeant who tell them where to stand and when and where to sign a paper. [Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/640]
It all starts with following those first instructions that seem so silly as to stand behind the piece of tape, but not too far and to lean over and sign your name.

In the span of just 3 hours The Citadel had moved in 825 Knobs to their bunks and had them all dressed alike in the barracks in lines ready to begin their college career. I wonder how many other schools can move that many students into their dorms that quickly. It is military precision taking place on their first day of school.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.8, 1/125]
They think of everything at The Citadel. Each cadet is issued a Camelbak that they must keep full and drink from regularly. You can watch the cadre coming behind them in formation squeezing the Camelbaks to be sure they have water. They are telling them to drink their water.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 400, ƒ/4.2, 1/250]
While in formation the cadets are to make the best of their time, yet they must wait for instructions. Here the cadre instructed them to read their Guidon. It has the rules of the corp of cadets. They must be able to recite this later in their training at a moment’s notice.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4.8, 1/105]
The Apostle Paul talked a great deal about the importance of the Corp of Cadets. Well actually he called it being a part of the body of Christ.

Here is Paul’s letter to the Corinthians to get them to stop bickering and not working together.

1 Corinthians 12
One Body with Many Members
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,[e] yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

You cannot be a leader or a follower if you are not a part of a community.

Matthew 28:18-20
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This week how will you be a part of the community of Christ? Who will you teach? What do you plan to learn? How will you serve?

Screeching Red-tailed Hawk was my alarm clock today

Red-tailed Hawk in our backyard on our deck. [Fuji X-E2, Fuji 55-200mm, ISO 1000, ƒ/4.8, 1/400]

I woke up this morning to screeching in our backyard. Sometimes this is the squirrels and other times it is the chipmunks, but today it was this Red-tailed Hawk.

Let me walk you through this photo shoot that was more about reacting to the moment than having planned to be shooting a hawk this morning.

The photo at the top here is later when I was working on the photos in Adobe Lightroom when the hawk decided to get closer to food. Our bird-feeders where squirrels and small birds hang out around our deck.

Red-tailed Hawk in our backyard eating a squirrel. This one kept on screeching with another hawk nearby. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 sport, Sigma TC-2001, ISO 18000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]

I first grabbed the closest camera and shot photos of the Red-tailed Hawk in the tree in our backyard eating a squirrel it had just caught. This was the Fuji X-E2. However, I quickly got my best camera to get this up close.

Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 Sport

I grabbed the Nikon D5 and put my Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 | S with a TC-2001 [2x converter] which gave me a 600mm ƒ/5.6 lens.

ExpoDisc EXPOD2-77 2.0 Professional White Balance Filter 77 mm, 82mm (Black)

By the way before I put the telephoto on the camera I put a 35mm lens and then did a custom white balance using my ExpoDisc. This helped me get the most accurate color under all the leaves and trees in our backyard.

I then quickly put this is my sports settings. I did this because I just needed to pick my custom settings where I had programed my camera for sports. Here is a blog post to walk you through it.

After shooting many photos I realized the hawk was staying until it was finished with the meal. This gave me some time to go and find a tripod, because I was hand holding the camera and lens up to this point.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 sport, Sigma TC-2001, ISO 900, ƒ/5.6, 1/200]

Then I went to the Nikon shooting menu and picked normal. This let me shoot at ISO 900 versus ISO 18000. I lowered the shutter speed from 1/4000 to 1/200.

I continued to shoot photos looking for moments where I felt like I was capturing the hawk as I wanted to portray it to you.

Red-tailed Hawk in our backyard on our deck. [Fuji X-E2, Fuji 55-200mm, ISO 1000, ƒ/4.8, 1/400]

When it was sitting on the railing on our deck I watched as I think it was looking for a squirrel that was hiding under our gas grill.

Since I had put away the Nikon D5 and the Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 | S I grabbed the Fuji X-E2 with the 55-200mm attached and got just a few more shots before it flew away.

Drew Gibson Country-Blues Song-Writer

Drew Gibson plays at The Crimson Moon in Dahlonega, GA with Dave Hadley playing the steel guitar. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/45]
Last night we drove up to Dahlonega, GA to see one of my wife’s friends from her college days in Richmond, VA play at The Crimson Moon.

Drew Gibson plays a country-blues style of music. He writes all of his music.

[Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/3.8, 1/100]
His latest album is 1532, which is about his late father and his family. I believe when artists start to deal with those raw emotions that they experience in things like losing of a loved one they are able to unleash their emotions.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/70]
Musicians often create a vibe with their music that draws others in since this often resonates with their audiences emotions as well.

While listening I felt like the photos I was taking from my seat just didn’t capture all the emotions I wanted to capture. I went outside and saw this in front of The Crimson Moon and could see Drew and Dave playing through the window.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/90]
Shooting through the window created this barrier between me and the musicians. The reflections in the window were from outside the coffee shop.

Often this is how I think we listen to music. We hear the music of the artist and at the same time we are reflecting on our own lives. The experience of the event creates this hybrid of our worlds colliding.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/25]
When I came back into the restaurant I wanted to capture the guests all relaxed and listening. I wanted to pickup on the mood of the place itself.

I took a few photos from different parts of the room to give more context to the small venue in Dahlonega.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/80]
Too often people get a tunnel vision and just continue to shoot from the same spot with the same lens. It maybe a great composition and the best angle, but it isn’t the only angle.

Move around and find those different perspectives.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.6, 1/500]
If you are wanting to experience a similar concert as I did, then go to The Crimson Moon website for list of concerts.

You can find out more about Drew Gibson on his website as well.

This is song about Drew’s Mother Betty Jane from the album.

Here is another song by Drew, “When the Vinyl Scrapes”.

Time of Day Impacts Your Photo

Leary family reunion at Ocean Isle Beach, NC. We are enjoying our accommodations on the beach front. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 51200, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]
Time of day makes a HUGE impact on a photograph. Take a look at these two examples.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 500, ƒ/5, 1/500]
The photos create two different moods and the reason you may use one over the other is for the purpose it is to serve.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 1/500]
This photo during the daytime with all the chairs helps give context to the house and it’s location to the beach.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/50]
If you can take photos at different times of day of a location take them both and do your best to make each one work.

[Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/35]

Storytelling Photo vs Point Photo

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

“When I take you out in the surrey with the fringe on top!”, sings Curly in the musical Oklahoma!

This photo above is the only time on the stage during the entire production of the musical at Roswell High School where the surrey is on stage. This is the one scene that captures the build up of the whole show to where we see what Curly was singing from the beginning of the show promising Laurey how he would treat her on a date.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

This is Ado Annie Cames singing, but because I am isolating her alone only the corn in the background helps to place this with the musical Oklahoma!.

This is what I call a point shot verses the top photo which has much more information and is getting closer to helping to tell more of the story. You still need words with either photo to make it storytelling, but hopefully you are seeing the difference between the scene establishing shot and the closeup.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/5, 1/100

Now the reason this photo of Curly and Laurey often works as well as the shot of the surrey is that this particular pose is used often in posters to promote the show. Just Google “Oklahoma! Musical” and look at all the photos and you will see this style shot pop up.

Nikon D5, 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/8000

Here is how I shot a promo shot verses the photo above it is from the show. Now while this doesn’t tell the story say as well as having the surrey in the photo, Curly is gesturing about how the future he promises to Laurey is better than where she is now.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/180

Google “Oklahoma Barn Scene” and you can see variations of other productions that show similar scene. Again this is more of a point photo, but because I included more of the set most theatre folks will know this is the Musical Oklahoma!.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/200

People Need The Lord Photo

“I don’t need a lot of ‘People Need The Lord’ photos,” commented Jeff Raymond to a photographer shooting photos with him in the Dominican Republic. “What do you mean?,” commented the photographer.

Jeff went on to explain the photo style like the Afghan girl on the front of National Geographic by Steve McCurry. This photo has had such an impact that many people think this is the “BEST” way to shoot.

Give me more context is what Jeff coached the photographer to do in addition to a few portraits.

You see the photo of the boy here could have been shot anywhere in the world.

This is a frame from short movie clip. Notice how the kids in the foreground are close enough to give you a portrait, but including the background gives you more context. Here is the movie and you can see what conditions I was shooting.

Please understand this blog post is not saying Storytelling Photo is better than a Point Photo. What I am saying is you need both.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/2000

The problem I see with many new photographers is falling in love with the closeup shot at ƒ/1.4 and centered. Then they have only slight variations of this photo in their portfolio.

If you are going to be hired over and over you must be the photographer who gives the client more than they expected. This is why learning how to use a variety of lenses, different apertures and shutter speeds on an assignment will have clients raving about you.

Sure you can do OK shooting the “People Need The Lord” photo, but you are a one trick pony show.

What high school theatre can teach us about Volunteers

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

Roswell High School had their last show of the musical Oklahoma! yesterday. What a production it was for everyone involved.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.8, 1/180

Our daughter Chelle was in the musical as Aunt Eller and this is the main reason my wife and I were involved as volunteers.

While there are many other ways I could talk about being a volunteer I thought this was a great way to talk about the roles of the volunteer.

If your organization is using volunteers it is imperative on you to define roles of volunteers so everyone knows what they are doing. Most organizations that regularly use volunteers usually have a volunteer coordinator.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/5, 1/100

Now in theater the term role came from literally an actor being given a part. No one had the entire play in the time of Shakespeare. They just had their part. This is why often their role would setup the next actor.

For the play to be successful each person needed to know their part/role.

Think of your organization like a musical to give you an idea how important it is for each person to know their part and for someone to be responsible for coordinating like the director of the show.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S,  ISO 32000, ƒ/5, 1/500

If you want to see excitement on your volunteers faces like here in the scene from Oklahoma! then you need to make everyone feel like they are part of the team.

Now everyone in this musical except for the two teachers were all volunteers. The student actors could have quit at any time.

By the way very seldom does this not cross someone’s mind as a volunteer. The main reason for the thought of quitting coming up is due to communication problems, which are often rooted in poor understanding of volunteers.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4.2, 1/140

Here is a list of some suggestions for you:

  • Developing ways to recognize and reward volunteer efforts
  • Helping volunteers feel welcome and supported
  • Developing and managing policies, procedures and standards for volunteers
  • Looking after the volunteer database and records
  • Planning and goal setting
  • Rostering and organizing volunteers
  • Delegating projects and tasks
  • Managing any associated budgets and expenditure
  • Communicating with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Resolving conflict or managing the grievance process.

Some No-Nos

  • Complaining about a volunteers work
  • Ask people to volunteer and then when they show up not use them
  • Make volunteers wait on you
  • Don’t thank your volunteers
Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S,  ISO 18000, ƒ/5, 1/500
The one thing that is the most valuable given by any and every volunteer is their TIME. No matter the person no one’s time is more valuable than any other person.
The only time it seems that we are really aware of how valuable our time is seems to be when our time is running out on this earth. Don’t be one of those people who doesn’t think about how valuable your time and others is until your last days here. Each person’s hour of time they donate is the same value as another person.
Now some who read this will disagree with me, but just like this play if one person didn’t do their assigned part then it is noticed. An actor doesn’t appear on stage at the right moment the other actors have to improv and the plot can be affected in the storyline. 
Just think of the time you had a splinter and how annoying that is and affects the whole body. That is how big of a deal each person’s time is to the organization. Something so small will be felt by the body.
Feelings Get Hurt
When people get upset working as a volunteer it can almost always be traced back to miscommunication. Often it is when the role wasn’t well defined or just as often is when volunteer shows up and those who are coordinating their time dropped the ball.
Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/5, 1/100
When you take the time to plan and organize your thoughts about using volunteers you can get everyone in step together.
When a plan comes together
I can tell you healthy organizations are the ones that treat everyone’s time as precious as gold. When they do the word gets out. People see what is going on and want to join. You see way too many people are aware of volunteering and wasting their time or at least not being treated with the respect due when you are giving away your time.
When a theatre company consistently is putting on great performances it is due to someone coordinating all those volunteers and treating everyone’s time a precious.
When respecting people’s time you will benefit from more friends and deeper friendships. You see a good relationship is respecting one another’s time.

Covering a candidates for City Council meeting

L/R Marie Willsey, Lori Henry and Shelley Sears are all running for open spot on the city Council, speaks at Roswell City Council Candidate forum held at the Roswell Community Masjid. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 2500, ƒ/4, 1/100]

I went to the local Masjid in Roswell to cover three of the candidates running for City Council office.


I wanted to show that this was pretty historic to show the Masjid hosting the meeting and as well to capture the personalities of those running for office, so that the audience would know about the candidates a little more than before the event. The tiles had Arabic language on them and I included them to show the location of the meeting.

I watched and listened. Each of the candidates running for office was very different from the others.

Shelley Sears was running on her success as a business woman in Real Estate. [Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/4.8, 1/100]

Shelly Sears was no nonsense business personality. She had a very similar approach of Trump. She wanted everyone to no she was not a politician, but a successful business person. She was running on the platform of we need business people running the city and not politicians.

I noticed she leaned forward more than the other candidates and intentionally chose not to use a microphone. This to me was her visually saying she needs no help at all and can handle it herself. I waited for the moment I thought that show her take control lean forward and tell you how she is going to take control was the best way to capture her.

Marie Willsey has been serving on her homeowners association board. She was seeing this as an opportunity to serve just like she has done for homeowners board, but a bigger stage of the community. She just likes serving. [Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/4.8, 1/100]

Now Marie Willsey reminded me of the stay at home mom who is involved in community service projects. She was serving on her homeowners board and loved doing this. She saw many of the same things facing the homeowners as those concerns for the larger community.

All the time when she was talking she was smiling. It was important that she came across as friendly and wanting to be seen as someone there to help you. So, I was sure to capture the smile and the warmth she was conveying to the audience.

Lori Henry had served in the past on the City Council. She wanted people to know she understood the issues that are the hotting topics to the community. She wanted to portray herself as scholared candidate on the cities issues. [Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/4.8, 1/100]

Now the third candidate had been here before. Lori Henry was running at the well educated on the issues candidate. She took issues and explained what needs to change to make a difference.

To capture this I had to look for that expression that showed a lot of thought going into her comments. So I looked for that furrowed brow and intense gaze.

Thought before I shot

As you can see I thought about each person. I felt their presence and looked for ways to capture those things into a visual moment that communicated some of this to the audience through the lens of the camera.

[Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 2800, ƒ/4, 1/100]

However First I …

The very first thing I did was to walk into the room and asses the room technically.

The room had fluorescent as well as tungsten lights. I wrote an earlier blog talking about this here and how to get good white balance.

I basically did a custom white balance using the ExpoDisc and was sure that the shutter speed was no faster than 1/100.

Next I sat on the front row center so I could get a clear shot of the speakers without any distractions. Also I knew I could stand up for a moment and move to the side and get an overall shot at some moment.

I also brought two cameras. The Nikon D5 had a 24-105mm which helped for the over all shot and the three speaking, but then I brought my Fuji X-E2 with the 55-200mm which let me get tight shots of them individually speaking without me leaving my chair.

Once I had all the technical stuff taken care of I then switched my mind over to listening and finding those moments to tell the story.


I call all this my shooting workflow. You need to always get the best technical shot as well as getting the moments to tell the story. There is a process that takes place every single time.

Do you have a process? Do you know why you are taking a photo? Do you know who your audience is for your photos? If you don’t know these answers then you will not be able to communicate much through your photos.

Treat your Camera like a Pen and you will get better photos!

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 1400, ƒ/1.4, 1/200

If photographers would take photos the way they write all of their photos would most likely be ten times better in quality.

So many people just pick up their camera and point and shoot. Just try and do that with writing. Go ahead and try it. Pick up the pencil or pen and just write.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 8000, ƒ/4, 1/100

For those of you who use the methodology of “Spray & Pray” how is that working for you? Your percentage of a photo you like is probably better than just clicking one time and moving on.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 18-55mm, ISO 320, ƒ/4, 1/100

The famous photographer Ansel Adams first chapter in his very first book was about the concept of previsualization in photography is where the photographer can see the final print before the image has been captured. Adams is often quoted as saying “Visualization is the single most important factor in photography”.

Adams was referring to not just what was in front of the camera, but rather his interpretation of what was in front of him all the way to the print before he clicked the shutter.

The reason most photographers are not producing work like Ansel Adams is because very few have taken the time to think about what they are trying to capture and say with their photos.

Previsualization is applied to techniques such as storyboarding, either in the form of charcoal drawn sketches or in digital technology in the planning and conceptualization of movie scenery make up.

The advantage of previsualization is that it allows a director, cinematographer or VFX Supervisor to experiment with different staging and art direction options—such as lighting, camera placement and movement, stage direction and editing—without having to incur the costs of actual production. On larger budget project, the directors work with actors in visual effects department or dedicated rooms.

At the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London they have displayed the sketches which then are turned into models like here.

After they have done this then they make the actual set that will be used in the movie as you see here for Diagon Alley.

Now compare this set to the street of Cecil Court that most likely inspired J. K. Rowling for Diagon Alley.

This is why Harry Potter the movie is a little more exciting than the just point and shoot of the tourist that I was on Cecil Court. The street has been the inspiration and then the artists create their vision of what they want to use to convey a mood for a story.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 40000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

Even in sports the creative photographer is anticipating. I am down field waiting for the action to come to me. I have thought about where I need to be and what I want to capture.


Treat the camera like the pen. Before picking it up and putting it to your eye have some idea of the sentence you are going to write. If you don’t you will have only gibberish and that is why your photos don’t work. You didn’t know why you took the photo and no one else will either.

Take this one step further and have in your mind the caption that will accompany that photograph as well. This will help you know what you are trying to say with your photo.

Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make!

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/4, 1/150

I like to think of still photography as capturing the emotional moments of a story. They are moments however and need a good storyteller to help weave these moments with text/words into a compelling story.

Photographers need to remember it isn’t just about the moments that will get them hired. In other words just having images will lack the most important part of getting jobs.

For photographers marketing ourselves is no longer about the photos we make, but the stories we tell that will help us seal those deals.

This is a great insight by John Steinbeck about a great story, “If a story is not about the hearer he [or she] will not listen . . . A great lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting–only the deeply personal and familiar.”

The Five Essential Elements Of A Story – Katie Kazoo says, “A story has five basic but important elements. These five components are: the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution. These essential elements keep the story running smoothly and allow the action to develop in a logical way that the reader can follow.”

  1. Character – This needs to be developed so that we can feel like we know this person. We can picture them and how they would dress, walk and talk.
  2. The Setting – Great writers like Pat Conroy who does such a great job of writing that if you had never been to Charleston, SC you would recognize it from just reading some of his books.
  3. The Plot – This is how you sequence the events of a story to keep the reader on the edge.
  4. The Conflict – This can be internal or external and often is a little of both for the main character.
  5. The Resolution – offer a fitting conclusion, which can be a tragedy or a comedy
This is a great example here of creating a setting for the story by South Carolina’s famed writer Pat Conroy as he describes Charleston in his 2009 novel, South of Broad: “I carry the delicate porcelain beauty of Charleston like the hinged-shell of some soft-tissued mollusk. . . . In its shadows you can find metal work as delicate as lace . . . it’s not a high-kicking, glossy lipstick city.”
Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 250, ƒ/4, 1/100
Photography can help in creating these five parts of the story. They can help show what often is difficult to tell without a lot of words.
Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/10
To me I am looking for those moments where the expressions on people’s faces is what writers often spend pages trying to create using just the text. I often see photos as packing in even more information than the writer attempted.
When you go to see a movie that a writer’s book has been turned into, you will notice over and over where screenwriters, directors and producers must include so much more in the frame of the lens that isn’t even described in that type of detail that the camera is giving to the audience.
Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.2, 1/90
Throughout my family vacation I was capturing slices of the memories that will be part of the stories we tell as a family in the years ahead.
When you look at your images that you captured this holiday did you capture slices of the story?
Many will always say yes, but I want to challenge you. Take a moment and think of what the story was this Christmas for your family. Now without thinking of your photos can you just tell the story? Then after telling us the story how many photos do you have that will support this story?
You don’t start your storytelling by just clicking randomly. You start with the storyline in your mind.

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”

– Brandon Sanderson

Marketing yourself with story is creating the questions for the client to realize they don’t have answers to and they need some help. That help is you!

This is the time of year for children

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

This is the time of year we celebrate Jesus being born. This is the time of year we celebrate children.

At my church this Christmas eve there is a special service for families with small children that we enjoy going to each year.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 2500, ƒ/4.8, 1/100

This little boy decided to join our minister in the chair beside her. The minister said as long as you sit you can stay.

Well that was a fun thing to watch unfold.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

I think the minister was enjoying the little boy as much as he liked being treated like an adult.

The more I travel the more I see that children are much more welcomed into services around the world than we do here.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 4500, ƒ/4, 1/100

Here all the kids are so well behaved here in Togo, West Africa. However they do walk around in the service to the mothers and family.

Children can bring you joy.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 4500, ƒ/4, 1/100

Take the time to enjoy moments and capture them to show others what you value and also to teach children what you value.

Photography has the power to help communicate our values. When it comes to faith capture those moments that shape your morals and values for your family.

1 Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

 Children are paying attention to all we do and how we act.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 2500, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

John 1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.