Branding or Good Enough?

89% of shoppers stay loyal to brands that share their values

If you’re focused on simply selling a product and not building a brand along with it, your messaging is likely very sales-heavy. Consumers are constantly being sold to. Instead of focusing on what you can get from them, brand-building allows you to focus on what you can give, and after you’ve built a foundation of trust with your audience, they will be more likely to hit “Buy Now” on your next offer.

Selling products in the short-term may be a necessary goal to launch your business, but branding has the ability to set up your business for success in the long term.

Selling stuff you no longer need on eBay to get some cash should look a lot different than how your business sells its products or services.

Steve Jobs impact on Apple was continually pushing products back to his team for simplifying and design. He pushed for clean back of the MacBook Pro. Something that most in the industry were not paying attention to that kind of detail that customers didn’t see when using. Jobs knew better.

Build your brand and don’t just succumb to Good Enough for your marketing.

Flash: The Photographer’s Lightsaber

[NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 24-105mm f/4G IF-ED, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/320, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

The lightsaber is the weapon of a Jedi, an elegant weapon of a more civilized age.

Flash is the lightsaber tool of photographers

The Jedi used the Lightsaber as a weapon. It made them even more powerful.

The photographer uses lights [flash & constant light source] to make them more powerful.

For the original Star Wars film, the film prop hilts were constructed by John Stears from old Graflex press camera flash battery packs and other pieces of hardware.

Without a flash a photo often misses that “WOW” factor.

Add flash and now the color and the people “POP”.

While silhouettes are often powerful by themselves, by adding flash I was able to reveal the subjects.

Learn How

I teach this in workshops that colleges, photography programs, camera clubs, & individual hire me to demonstrate and then coach them to do it themselves with my supervision.

Here you can see the photography workshop participants watching and learning.

Fire Dancer in Kona Hawaii [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 7200, 1/200, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 35)]

Contact me to do a workshop for your group or for you individually.

Importance of Practicing with Nikon Z9

Laughing Gull at Ocean Isle Beach, NC [NIKON Z 9, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8G + TC-2001, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 500, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

When you buy a new camera there are many situations that you can shoot with minimal understanding of your new camera.

[NIKON Z 9, 85mm f/1.8G, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/125, ƒ/6.3, (35mm = 85)]

I believe headshots are super easy for a new camera. Just setting the camera to manual and setting the sync speed is minimal to get great results. With the Z9 and having the eye tracking activated it does great. This is because there is only one set of eyes to track and focusing is quite simple.

Michigan State vs Pittsburgh [NIKON Z 9, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8G + TC-2001, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 18000, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 440)]

Now with football in a stadium there are many eyes to track. This is where the camera gets confused as to what you want in focus.

Now taking the camera out of the box and going off to a sporting event for a job is just crazy. This is such a difficult subject to get into focus without understanding all the camera settings. So much so that Nikon has a special instruction manual for just sports.

Nikon Z9 Sports AF Edition

It gets very complicated and quickly. Just look at this chart alone.

With so many dials and choices you need to understand what they all do before shooting a really important job.

I think today’s top end cameras take a lot of time to master all the controls.

Boeing 747 Cockpit

I am not sure which has more controls the Nikon Z9 or a Boeing 747. Pilots will train in a flight simulator before actually flying the Boeing 747. The main purpose of a flight simulator is to help the pilot to achieve, test and maintain proficiency in handling airplane operation without involving any risk to property or lives, and at a much lower cost than training in the air.

How long does it take to become a 747 pilot?

To become an airline pilot, it takes two years to gain the required 1,500 hours flight time.

I see that one of the major problems with many buying the Nikon Z9 is they have very little experience with photography in general.

Total Hours Required
Private Pilot License40 Hours
Commercial Pilot Certificate250 Hours
Airline Transport Pilot Certificate1,500 Hours

Those are hours flying and doesn’t include all the ground school for each of those certificates.

On Nikon Z9 community groups online I am seeing people asking questions that are more basic than just the knowledge for the specificity to the Nikon Z9. You have got to spend a lot of time learning all the menus and the best way to do that is with the Reference Manual. The second thing you have to do is test out what each of those settings do and take some photos changing those settings so you understand what that setting does to help you in a given situation.

One of the best ways to get those hours under the belt is through practicing with all types of subjects and situations. You cannot practice enough.

This past week while on vacation at Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina I used the time to just play and most importantly become more aware of some of the controls on my Nikon Z9.

Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. [NIKON Z 9, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8G + TC-2001, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 360, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 600)]

One of the most difficult things to do with photographing birds for me was actually just keeping the bird in flight in the frame. My brother-in-law tried my Nikon Z9 and his first comment was how difficult it was to track the birds.

Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. [NIKON Z 9, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8G + TC-2001, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 900, 1/4000, ƒ/8, (35mm = 300)]

Now while I was playing/practicing with the Nikon Z9, I also did the same thing with my Drones. I flew my DJI Air 2S.

Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. [DJI Air 2S, Mode = Normal, ISO 150, 1/240, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 22)]

My new Nikon Z9 can do way more than I have understanding at this point in time. I am doing as much practicing with different situations, so that, when I have a client that needs something that my camera will do, but I need to have the right settings to maximize the ability of the camera. You can also screw up most all the photos if not in the right settings.

This week I will be shooting the Roswell Alive After Five on Canton Street. This is where I am also practicing. The last time I did this I shot with two prime lenses. I shot with the Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 Art and the Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8.

Alive in Roswell is a free family-friendly monthly festival held every third Thursday evening (5:00 – 9:00 PM) from April through October. The festival is held concurrently on Historic Canton Street, Roswell Antique and Interiors Lot, and Historic Roswell Town Square. Free regular trolley service connects the free parking at Roswell City Hall and the Historic Town Square. Dogs are allowed at Alive in Roswell, but please bring them on a leash and be a good fur parent and clean up any deposits from your baby. The only place that they are not allowed is on the free trolley. [NIKON Z 9, Sigma 35mm f/1.4G Art, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 64, 1/800, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

I loved shooting shallow depth-of-field to force you to look at what I wanted to be the subject in the photo.

[NIKON Z 9, Sigma 35mm f/1.4G Art, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 64, 1/1250, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]
[NIKON Z 9, 85mm f/1.8G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 64, 1/640, ƒ/1.8, (35mm = 85)]

Procedural Memory

Procedural memory, also called implicit memory, is a type of long-term memory involved in the performance of different actions and skills. Essentially, it is the memory of how to do certain things. Riding a bike, tying your shoes, and cooking an omelet without a recipe are all examples of procedural memories.

Tips To Master Your Nikon Z9

  • Download the Nikon Z9 Reference Manual
  • Watch YouTube Videos – Go to YouTube and put in the search term for “Nikon Z9”
  • Watch YouTube Specialty Videos – Put in “Nikon Z9” and “Specialty” ie. “Bird Photography”
  • Set aside time in the day to go and shoot practice situations
  • Evaluate your shoot. I recommend using Nikon’s NX Studio. The advantage is this can let you see where you were focusing and help understand user error
  • Rinse & Repeat – Continual Repetition will help you know when you need to change the camera settings and which settings to use in any situation

Remember one size doesn’t fit all. The camera is highly customizable in order for you to do things no one thought possible, but you must have the camera setup for that subject and situation.

Beach Family Photos

This year we did the family photo up on the walkway to the beach. This was easier for my parents to navigate than on the beach.

Photo by Dorie Griggs [my wife]

Here is the basic setup for this photo.

Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. Leary Family Vacation [DJI Air 2S, Mode = Normal, ISO 120, 1/60, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 22)]

Now I also took a family photo with my drone this year. The wind was blowing so much that we didn’t get really one photo with everyone looking great. We did get many photos without the drone.

Now getting a moment with little children takes a village. They were done after a couple shots, but we needed them for different groupings.

“Patience grasshopper”

– Kung Fu
Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. Leary Family Vacation [NIKON Z 9, VR 24-105mm f/4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 64, 1/100, ƒ/8, (35mm = 38)]

I believe that recording real moments is what we cherish years later. Of course I am thinking how can we get a better photo with everyone looking their best. I suggested the oldest cousin sit down in front with one of the younger ones to make them feel special. IT WORKED!!!

Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. Leary Family Vacation [NIKON Z 9, VR 24-105mm f/4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 64, 1/125, ƒ/8, (35mm = 38)]

I then took my lights onto the beach for those who wanted photos on the beach.

Rebecca Kramer Manzi being a photo assistant [photo by Dorie Griggs]

Again I had some help from the rest of the family. They held the lights so that the wind didn’t blow them over and damage the lights.

Madison & Joshua Poe at Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. Leary Family Vacation [NIKON Z 9, VR 24-105mm f/4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 64, 1/1000, ƒ/4, (35mm = 95)]

By the way, the reason I shot the photos on a tripod is in case I needed to combine multiple photos to get the best expressions.

Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. Leary Family Vacation [NIKON Z 9, VR 24-105mm f/4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 64, 1/80, ƒ/8, (35mm = 38)]

This last photo is combination of couple photos to get the best expressions.

Setup for the photos on the wooden deck

“Fearless to a Fault”

This past weekend many of us went back to the movie theater and watched “Top Gun: Maverick”. Tom Cruise brings Maverick back to the big screen.

Maverick has a rogue pilot’s attitude to life. It takes the death of Goose for Maverick [first movie] to look back on his actions with anything resembling a critical eye, as the young pilot is initially a reckless, feckless recruit who couldn’t care less about the lives he endangers and the potential damage he could do himself.

Our culture teaches us we are to take calculated risks. However, Maverick tells Rooster to “Don’t think, just do.

“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”

– Zig Ziglar

Without spoiling the movie Maverick takes us on a journey where he is willing to push his limits. The greatest lesson Maverick teaches is the importance of believing you can do something.

One of the film’s central themes is, “It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot.”  Maverick added, “What is achievable comes down to the pilot in the box.” 

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.

– Norman Vincent Peale

Creatives Need To Embrace Fear

Fear can be healthy. It is programmed into your nervous system, and gives you the survival instincts you need to keep yourself safe from danger. Fear is unhealthy when it makes you more cautious than you really need to be to stay safe, and when it prevents you from doing things you would otherwise enjoy.

I watch many freelancers who have a hard time surviving in this industry. They overthink. They suffer from Analysis Paralysis. Analysis Paralysis is an inability to make a decision due to over-thinking a problem. An individual or a group can have too much data. The result is endless wrangling over the upsides and downsides of each option, and an inability to pick one.

You Must Fail to Succeed

Failure is not a step backward; it’s an excellent stepping stone to success. 

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

– Winston Churchill

What’s the worst thing that could happen?

It’s good to get into the habit of asking yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” in any given situation. If the worst thing is not that bad, then you might be spurred into action. If the worst thing that can happen is really bad, then it might cause you to sit this one out and stay on sidelines because the possible downside is so terrible, even if the chance of it happening is very small. It’s better to err on the side of caution than the side of catastrophe.

Aron Ralston, who went rock climbing alone and got his hand pinned against a rock wall by a boulder that moved while he was climbing down it. He didn’t tell anyone that he was going hiking, so no one was going to look for him. He was stuck there for 5 days. He then realized that although he couldn’t move or break the boulder that trapped him, he could escape the boulder by cutting off his trapped arm with the small, dull knife he had. So that’s what he did. He cut off his arm to survive. Quite a story.

Had Ralston asked himself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen to me while hiking alone?” before going hiking alone, then he probably would have told someone where he was going, in case he got in a situation where he needed help.

Mitigate the Risks

Take the time to come up with a game plan to grow your business. Dream Big! The only thing you need to do is plan out your actions that you will need to take to implement your dream.

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” If you can lose money to implement the plan, just be willing to lose that money. Consider it a way to test your idea out. It is you doing research.

“Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”

– J.K. Rowling

I love how Thomas Edison looked at what many would call failure. He tried over and over to invent the light bulb. He probably failed more than most. It took over 10,000 failures to find the right material to make it work. Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

What is the difference between most of the successful freelancers vs those who had to leave the industry? Confucious said, “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.”

Those who get back on the bicycle after falling are the ones who learn how to ride a bike.

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with failure.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Not Your Mom and Dad’s Senior Photos

When parents of today’s seniors had their senior photos taken they were shot on film and not digital as today.

My two sister’s and I taken on my oldest sister’s graduation from Manalapan High School

For our family we all had senior photos made in the style of the day, but the number of photos you had taken was a lot less than we do today.

My younger sister Hannah senior photos in Hockesin, Delaware

Today it is much easier to take hundreds of photos so that we can not just get a variety of images, but the best expressions.

Kids who seemed confident throughout childhood may struggle to maintain self-assurance during the teen years. For many, adolescence is a time filled with self-doubt, a questionable body image, and insecurity.

Feeling self-conscious about your appearance is normal. The way most of us are photographed throughout our lives doesn’t really help. You see most of the time when a photograph is taken, that is it. One photo is taken and maybe a second where everyone is acting goofy. What are the chances that moment was your best?

Look for a Seasoned Professional Photographer

Most all professional photographers can get a well exposed and sharp photo. When you look for a photographer, pay attention to the expressions of the people in the photos. Pay a lot of attention to the eyes.

Look for a variety of expressions. You can tell if they are genuine expressions.

Some photographers are great with their personalities, but they don’t bring out their subjects personalities. Sometimes the best photographers are quiet and listen more than they talk. That is because they are looking for real connections.

Some of the best people photographers I know had degrees in psychology, social work and counseling professions. They studied body language. There are other photographers without those formal education, but have spent a lifetime studying people. They have gone to workshops and studied with seasoned professionals to perfect their people skills as well as photographic skills.

Jane Yandel Senior Photos

Tips for Your Senior

Have FUN!!!!! Act up! Be Goofy!

After 40 years of working in photography I can tell you that those people who are willing to take the risk and look ridiculous and take risks are those with the best images I have ever made.

I started taking portraits in college. I found that those who would work with me and take direction always got the very best expressions.

My Brochure and Prices for Senior Photos

“What are the rates for ________ ?”

This was posted today on Facebook. Pretty much every day somewhere a newbie to the industry or to a new genre of photography/video asks the question, “What can I charge?” Here is that Question on this post:

Client: Environmental NGO based in California
1 day Shoot: portraits, candid shots, etc. outside on the US
Usage: social media, website, other marketing material
Duration: they haven’t specified


  • Would you charge a day rate or flat fee?
  • How may pictures would you deliver?
  • What sort of usage would that include (i.e. non-exclusive, 2-3 years?)
  • If day rate, do you charge additional editing day considering is all minor colour correction, etc.?
  • What’s the standard rate for NGOs in the US? (I know the rates vary quite a lot for NGO based outside and inside the US ranging from anything btw $360/day to $1,500.)

Here was my response, which I hope may help even more people.

What is an NGO?

The biggest difference with an NGO is the scope of work that most non-profits assume. Many non-profits are affiliated with churches, boys and girls clubs, and alumni associations. An NGO, on the other hand, has broader and internationally driven footprint.

Similarities of non-profit and profit organizations

Both make income, but reinvest all earnings back into the organization to continue operations and to support their causes. Although both have a staff consisting of mostly volunteers, they also hire and pay some higher-level employees within the organizations.

Their utilities are pretty much the same. The staff must be paid a going rate in their location or they will not be able to hire.

Special events costs don’t change because they are a non-profit. The catering is the same cost. The cost savings usually come in volunteers helping.

Don’t be the one vendor giving their work away for less while all the other vendors are being paid their full-price.

Day Rate or Hourly Rate vs Flat Fee or Project Based Pricing

Charging by the hour is one of the worst mistakes a freelancer can make. If you charge by the hour, it will only be natural for you to work less efficiently than if you had priced on a per job basis. And given that you only have a certain number of hours available in the day, you are essentially capping your maximum earning potential.

If on the other hand you price on a per job basis, you are limited only by the speed in which you can complete your work. You will learn to work more productively, and in turn, will earn a higher equivalent hourly rate (and impress clients with your efficient style and quick turnaround).

I suggest Project Pricing with contract

Spelling out what is to be photographed and what the deliverable will be for the client is necessary in this model.

When you are doing the job, it is quite common for clients to say, “Since you are here” or “Can you take a few shots of this for me?” By having contract with the scope of the project outlined you now have a way to handle those requests which makes you more money or keep you from giving away work for free.

“I would love to help you get more photos. Since this is beyond the contract, the extra cost will be $_______.” They may say no, but you offered to do the work and they are not able to take advantage of you.

You can also respond by saying, “The list of shots we have to do on the list will not all get done if we stop and shoot this. What on the list do you want to eliminate for this photo?”

The number of photos delivered

Delivering a few finished photo options for each situation is bare minimum. Some show most of the take and then only deliver a limited number for which the client picks for further finishing edits. Usually in contract a number is given on the number of deliverables, but good to always spell out the price for additional photos from those taken.

If you are new to shooting this type of assignment, have the client tell you what they want. Then over shoot and have them limit the final number.


Always 3 prices in an estimate. Always have three levels of pricing. Low, Medium and High prices that something changes in what the client gets for the price.

Usage is one of the best ways to create three prices. Also, by spelling out the usage and other factors in pricing you are setting up some of the parameters for negotiating with the client before starting the job.

Do not make your lowest price something that you will complain about if they choose to go this direction.

I have found most of the time that the client picks the middle price.

For large corporations or organizations, add a 4th price. This I call the Whoop T Doo. If they go this direction you will benefit and so will they.

Post Processing Fee

Always let clients know you can do more with the photos. For example, fixing skin issues or changing colors of clothing in post-production.

Personally, it is easier for the client to have some pricing idea before asking for the work. Sometimes it is just easier to have examples of before and after with pricing.

Don’t make clients feel like they are being nickel and dimed by you. Make them feel like they are at a spa and upgrading the experience and enjoy spending for the luxurious experience.

What’s the standard rate?

There really are no standard rates in photography.

The costs of living around the country alone make prices fluctuate. It just costs more because everything in that market costs more and they have to make a living.

The prices I am hearing in the Metro Atlanta area go around $600 day to $4,000 or more.

There are always those who are cheaper, but rarely are they in business over many years.


  1. Know your Cost of Doing Business. I like to know what my monthly expenses average out over time and have a figure I know that I cannot walk out the door to do work or I will be paying them to work for the job.
  2. Know your hourly rate, but never quote it. Fast food restaurants know how much they must pay an hour to each employee, but their prices on the menu do not show those hourly rates. Neither should you. Use this rate to help you configure your project price.
  3. Sliding Scale. If a job is for an hour for example the client will pay much more for the most part than the person who hires me for a project that takes a day. So, if I am paying myself $300 an hour for first hour, I may charge the client $1,100 for half-day of my time. Again, this is how I am building my price in my head for the project. They get a $100 discount for more work. I may only charge $1,800 for the day verses 8 X $300 = $2,400 for the day. Again, give me more work you get a discount.
  4. Usage & Risk. If the client is going to use this in a major multiyear ad campaign, then most likely your photos are going to help make them a great deal if successful. You want to get paid more. If this is something like a wedding where you have no do overs, the risk means you should be paid more. High risk jobs require more redundancy and preplanning to avoid unnecessary risks.
  5. Always provide 3 prices. Give clients the ability to add fries to their order. This is how you can grow your business.

Show the Story vs Tell the Story

If you can’t identify what makes your story unique and interesting, chances are nobody else will either.

  • Who is driving the story? Who is it about? Who is affected? Who benefits? Who loses?
  • What has happened? What are the consequences? What does this mean for the reader?
  • Where is this taking place (building, neighborhood, city, country)? Where should readers go to learn more?
  • When did it happen (time of day, day, month, year)? When was the last update? When can you expect to learn more? When will the effects be felt?
  • Why did this event take place? Why is this important in the big picture? Why should readers care?
Chick-fil-A Supply DC being built in Cartersville, GA, Brian Kemp, Governor of Georgia is keynote. The CFA Supply team is in attendance, as well as a Cathy family member, CFA leadership, other key partners on the project, and local government stakeholders and a few local media outlets. Paul Trotti, Brent Ragsdale, Dan Cathy, Commissioner Pat Wilson, Governor Brian Kemp, Tim Tassopoulos, Commissioner Steve Taylor, Glenn Jordan, Mike Haselton, & Matt Rumsey [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 100, 1/400, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 24)]

Storytelling is Key

While you can have all the answers to the 5 Ws and have all the visuals from the close-up, the medium and the wide overall photos to tell the story, you need a way to engage the audience and also weave the parts into a comprehendible storyline.

Stories are either a 1) Drama or 2) Tragedy. There is always a tension for which everything pivots around.

Jeff Ellis, a mechanical engineering student at Georgia Tech, does research on a new heart valve under the direction of Dr. Ajit Yoganathan. Dr. Yoganathan’s current research is in the fluid mechanics of valvular regurgitation.

When the storyteller starts off with a kidnapping event, the tension is established right away and the question of if this is a tragedy or drama is what hooks the audience to stay on the edge of their seats for the ending.

The Atlanta Science Festival [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4000, 1/80, ƒ/8, (35mm = 14)]

Businesses often fail in telling their story

Most businesses put most of their money into events like ground breaking, award banquets, kickoff events, and other celebrations.

Imagine Star Wars starting the story with the celebration of the victory. Imagine any movie starting with the ending, but this is what most businesses do with their Public Relations.

Either Or?

Am I proposing that instead of celebration events you do storytelling instead? No. I am proposing that storytelling be a priority so that the celebrations become even better. Why do we celebrate? We had to overcome a great deal to get to this point. Tell that story, so that everyone knows what got you to the point of the celebration.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl 2019 [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 11400, 1/4000, ƒ/4, (35mm = 195)]

Invite your Audience to the Game

Do you think people would show up just for the trophy presentation? No. People want to see the game. They want to see and experience the tension of overcoming obstacles to win the game.

K’Lavon Chaisson #18 of the LSU Tigers is given the Most Outstanding Player award by Dan Cathy after beating Oklahoma Sooners in the 2019 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28, in Atlanta. [NIKON D5, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 9000, 1/4000, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 240)]

What is your play of the game for your business this year???

Hire a professional storyteller to tell your story. Most of your audience isn’t going to be present while you play your game. They will need the storyteller the next day to pull the highlights and the play of the game to tell your story.

The coffee berry borer is a small, black beetle, just a few millimeters long. The females bore holes into coffee berries and then lay their eggs in the seeds within—the bits that we know as “coffee beans”. The larvae devour the seeds when they hatch, destroying them.

Establish the crisis that your business provides the solution.

Just Coffee and Frontera de Cristo [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 4000, 1/1000, ƒ/6.3, (35mm = 62)]

How to Fight The Coffee Borer Beetle

  1. Regularly inspect your crops for signs of infestation. …
  2. Immediately separate all infected samples and cherries. …
  3. Use pesticides (organic farmers may also be able to find appropriate pesticides).
  4. Use traps.

Are you telling effective stories or are you killing the story by starting with the ending by only celebrating with events? My suggestion is to do both. Tell your story and celebrate those milestones.

Thriving in the Gig Economy

Today many are Gig Workers. They are self-employed and work for many clients, as opposed to employees who have one boss.

Gig mindsetters are constant learners — they self-manage, take spontaneous initiative, focus on skills more than roles, feel free to shortcut processes, and don’t hesitate to question the status quo. They share what they learn with others, take ownership of their own personal growth, and feel confident in their ability to influence people.


The Gig Mindset includes a level of loyalty to the organization and not the process. It is a willingness to make things better.

If you are someone who wants to show up and get a To-Do List from someone and execute it, then you need to find employment with a company. Then spend time in that company learning how to develop a Gig Mindset before you become a freelancer.

I think that one of the key elements for the Gig Worker is their ability to come up with solutions for their clients.

Spring Orchestra Concert “Electrify Your Strings” with Mark Wood – Recording artist, performer, producer, inventor, Emmy–winning composer and music education advocate has spent the last four decades electrifying the orchestra industry–literally.

Creating is not a result of genius, unconscious incubation or aha! moments. It is a result of thinking: a series of mental steps consisting of problem, solution, repeat.

Complacency is an enemy. “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it,” is an impossible idiom. No matter what the sales, no matter what the customer satisfaction, there is always something to fix.

“Most Gig Workers can do a job, but few can conceive one.” 

– Stanley Leary

The secret of Steve Jobs was that he was never satisfied. He devoted his life to asking, “Why doesn’t it work?” and “What should I change to make it work?”

Right now, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have been celebrating Passover, Easter and Ramadan. All of these are the time for believers to remember. It is a time to hit the pause button on everything that is going on in their lives and focus on the bigger purpose in our lives.

Togo, West Africa

It is just as important for us to do in our work. Each year we should hit the pause button and remember the purpose of our work. I believe people of faith who integrate their faith purpose with their work will be the most successful.

As a Christian I am reminded of how Jesus stayed laser focused on his purpose. At the crucifixion, the chief priests—probably both Pharisees and Sadducees—insisted that the sign over Jesus’ head that said “The King of the Jews” should say “This man claimed to be King of the Jews.”

Throughout scripture Jesus confronts the religious leaders about their desire to be honored by men and not God. He purposely healed the sick and picked grain on the Sabbath day to counter their extreme views about the Sabbath.

He was focused on his purpose. Jesus hit the pause button and took time to be alone. He prayed.

Martin Luther best known as seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation said, “I have so much to do that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer.”

C.S. Lewis is often attributed as saying, prayer “doesn’t change God. It changes me.”

For me as a Gig Worker I see prayer as something that is necessary for my business. It is a time for me to align my will to God’s will.

I have committed my business to honor God. I firmly believe that this alignment helps with all the ethics of my work and gives me a better sense of purpose.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus said the “leader” is “as the one who serves” in the Gospel of Luke 22:24-27.

I spend a lot of time trying to understand my clients and potential client’s business. The core question that I am asking is, “How can I help them grow their business with their clients?”

I recommend to all Gig Workers to hit pause and find your purpose for your business. Start each day in prayer. Be sure your business stays aligned to serving others.

Earth Day April 22, 2022

Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22, is a reminder to protect the environment, restore damaged ecosystems and live a more sustainable life. First celebrated in 1970, this year marks its 52nd anniversary.

The April 22 date was selected in part to maximize the number of students that could be reached on university campuses as this date it fell between colleges’ spring break and final exams.

10 things you can do now to help the planet

  1. Change your lights.
  2. Recycle unwanted wire hangers.
  3. Fly with an e-ticket.
  4. Recycle your old phones.
  5. Use your own coffee cup.
  6. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
  7. Go vegetarian once a week.
  8. Take shorter showers.
  9. Shop at thrift stores, garage sales, second-hand stores, etc…
  10. Wash with cold or warm water

The Importance of Connecting in a Disconnecting Society

How do you connect authentically with people today, when we live in a disconnected world?

We are all wired to connect as human beings. These past two years of social distancing we have been using technology to help us connect. However, I think there is a gap still between many of us not letting us connect authentically.

I believe when we are connecting authentically, we feel heard and understood as well as we hear others opening up and sharing with us. We find common ground.

Vision Trip to Santiago, Chile [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 2500, ƒ/4, 1/100]

While many of us have seen and even experienced unfollowing or unfriending of people due to their views which make us uncomfortable, we somehow can still find our “Tribe”.

Many of us have found online affinity groups around our hobbies or other subjects that help us feel connection in our lives.

We all know how special it is to find your “peeps”, but many of us struggle to know how to start a relationship with a stranger. If you are in business, your livelihood depends on your ability to create new relationships with strangers. This is how we get “NEW” customers.

We all have heard about “Networking”, but many of us hate doing it. I think the reason is that we have never learned how to do it effectively.

One of the best ways to network was what we did for the first years of our lives–go to school. What that did for us, was put us together with other people our same age who needed to learn similar content in order to develop into working adults.

Many of our closest friends are from a forced networking event–called school. During those years we spent time together and through our conversations and even class activities we started to form social networks. We would play sports, join clubs and just hang out with those we had similar interests with in our age groups.

If you own a business encourage your people to be involved in the community. You have to meet people first before any relationship can begin.

Teach your people to be curious. One of the greatest things you can teach your team is how to ask questions to get to know others. Just as important is for each person to know their own stories and their interests.

Hands down the best skill and job was a photojournalist. I had to introduce myself and get to know people in order to share their stories. Learning how to not just ask questions like; Who, What, Where, When, How and Why?, but to ask questions that ask people to share their struggles that helped make them who they are today.

The best part of interviewing people for a journalist is that the focus is all on the other person and not on you. What I found is by doing this was helping me to connect in ways that took years to do with my friends through school. It was being intentional that was the difference.

Getting to know someone will help you connect and also build trust with the person.

[NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 24-105mm f/4G IF-ED, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/100, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 24)]

Moving from acquaintances to a friend is having a connection to their past, present and even more to their future. What do you like to do? Let’s plan some time together doing something fun.

In sales when you really connect is when you know how you can make their life better. Often you will discover that your service that you do for work isn’t something they need or would benefit from. That is OK, you have a friend.

Keeping friends even if they are not someone you can sell to is important. Sometimes they can help you or just as good if what they do can help another one of your friends.

Keep repeating that last paragraph. It is the key to those who understand the power of genuine connection. Don’t be shortsighted as so many have become in business. Those who are just thinking about the next 30 to 90 days do not flourish like those who think about a lifetime.

“The social brain hypothesis predicts that humans have an average of about 150 relationships at any given time,” according to a research study. “Within this 150, there are layers of friends of an ego, where the number of friends in a layer increases as the emotional closeness decreases.”

Most of us do not reach our potential of the number of relationships we can maintain.

“Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”

― Brené Brown

Why I Bought The Nikon Z9

When you take pictures for a living, the reasons to upgrade might be different than for the hobbyist. I mention this first because the very first thing I consider before even thinking about the other reasons, “will I be able to recover the investment?”

At one point I would buy a newer car when I thought I was getting high mileage. This was because the amount of money to keep it running would soon not make sense to pour into the older vehicle.

Today I no longer think this way with cars. They are made to last much longer than when I first started driving. I actually have 282071 miles on my Toyota Sienna van.

With cameras I do think more like I did with my earlier cars. If you keep your Digital Camera too long, it loses value much faster than film cameras. With film cameras a newer model really wasn’t doing all that much different, because the film was what was changing every so often. You bought the film for the assignment.

If you are buying the flagship model most of the time, then when the next new flagship comes out your older one has the greatest resale value. If you wait every other flagship to upgrade then your camera’s resale value drops even more.

Nikon D5

Typically I find that you can expect to sell your older model for about 50% of what you paid for it, if you take good care of that camera. I have found that selling directly to someone locally is where you get the best resale price.

I have found that selling my camera’s on ebay was better than going to a camera reseller.

Reason #1

So, the first reason I buy a newer model is to get the most for my present camera. I normally have two flagship cameras of the same model. I often have another third camera that is more of a prosumer model. Today I have the Nikon Z6 as my third camera.

When I do an upgrade I normally am able to get enough money selling two cameras to cover the cost of one of the newer cameras.

Reason #2

Since I have stayed with Nikon for all my cameras that I do jobs with, I have sometimes skipped an upgrade because there wasn’t significant value added in the newer model. So, when the Nikon D6 came out I actually kept my Nikon D5 cameras until the Nikon Z9.

I will start with the jump from film to digital. I had been shooting film and scanning 35mm transparencies and the biggest reason I wanted a digital camera was for digital capture. The amount of time I saved on the average job was days. The time to process the film and then scan each image took forever.

Nikon D100 [6 Mp]Digital Capture main reason
Nikon D2X (12 Mp]Better resolution
Nikon D3 [12 Mp]ISO 200 to 6,400 & OK at ISO 12800
Nikon D4 [16 Mp]ISO 100-12,800 expandable to 204,800
Nikon D5 [20 Mp]100-102,400ISO Expandable to 3,280,000, Better Video
Nikon Z9 [45.7 Mp]Silent Shutter, Electronic Shutter 1/32000 to 30 Seconds,
ProRes 422 HQ 4:2:2 10-Bit, Built-in Wireless & Built-in GPS

There is a much greater difference between the D4 and D5 than the D5 to D6. The gains of the D5 over the D4 are the extra resolution which makes a big difference, especially if you have to crop a bit. The AF improvements are substantial and worth the upgrade alone.

Now the only thing that actually went backwards from the D5 to the Z9 was the High ISO. Increasing the number of megapixels keeping everything else constant (sensor size, technology etc.) will increase noise per pixel, but also has the effect of making the noise finer grained which is less objectionable.

Image size (megapixels) doesn’t directly impact noise, but it indirectly impacts noise when you consider two sensors of the same size. In this case, all things being equal, the larger-megapixel sensor will show more noise as a side-effect of trying to “squeeze” more pixels onto a sensor of similar size. Although this can be shown in certain cases within a camera line, this factor can be difficult to pin down because cameras also often have upgraded sensor or processing technology that manages noise more effectively.

Reason #3

Competition is real. There are numerous ways through the years this has impacted the industry.

If other photographers are able to deliver a better looking image due to a camera that has cleaner images at higher ISO, the clients that use photographers a lot will notice the difference. You cannot afford to let your equipment leave you behind.

Nikon D3s

Until the Nikon D3, all my digital cameras were letting me shoot the same ISOs as film, nothing better for high ISO. However, the biggest game changer in my career was the Nikon D3. I no longer had to light interiors with flash to get acceptable images. So, I was able to be less disruptive to my client’s because I didn’t have to use flash all the time.

Now the cameras after the Nikon D3 biggest jumps came in the video side for me. Having headphone jack for audio was huge.

Fuji X-E3

When I went to mirrorless I first did so with the Fuji X-E2 and X-E3 cameras. What I loved the most about these were the ability to shoot silent at times and more importantly I could look through the viewfinder when shooting video. I didn’t have to shoot in live view and attach a special loupe to see the image while filming.

While I tried a few other mirrorless cameras, I couldn’t replace my Nikon D4 and then D5 with them. They were slow with focusing and slow with the shutter release.

The Nikon Z9 was the first mirrorless that I didn’t give up anything in terms of focusing, speed of capturing images and no special extra attachments to do video. Since I rarely if ever shot above ISO 15,600 I really didn’t lose anything in the high ISO as well.


There were many more factors for each camera that I upgraded to or bought to try out. No question that until the Nikon Z9 the Nikon D3 over the previous cameras was the biggest game changer.

Here are some of the upgrades with the Z9 that are worth mentioning here:
  • No Shutter – Totally silent lets me shoot on film sets, during prayer services and other places where I need to be quiet. However, the most important thing is when I am behind people, for the first time ever in my 35+ years when I take a photo, people do not turn around due to the “Clicking Sound”.
  • Focus – This not only focuses as well as my Nikon D5, but even more accurately and all over the frame. It has Artificial intelligence to look for people & animal’s eyes and even cars it will track. One guy summed it up well when just photographing birds in flight. He had gotten more in focus and usable images in just a couple hours than he had done in the past 10 years.
  • 45 Mp – This is the first high megapixel camera for me. This will allow for larger images and cropping that I could have never done before.
  • Zero Blackout Viewfinder – With DSLR the mirror must move and your camera goes black. With many of the mirrorless cameras it also will go black due to the computer processor, but the Z9 is like never losing vision of the subject.
  • In-built Image Stabilization – Sharper images at longer focal lengths and slow shutter speeds. Big plus with Video
  • New mount design – Nikon reworked their mount and came out with new lenses to get better edge to edge sharpness. This is huge with video.
  • Focus Bracketing – Take multiple photos shifting focus point
  • Focus Stacking – Stacks photos in-camera to maximize depth of field
  • Smartphone Remote – Remote control your camera with a smartphone
  • Continuous Shooting – 20 fps in RAW & 30 fps in JPEGs or If you don’t mind 11MP JPEGs, the Z9 can even shoot at up to 120fps
  • Backwards lens compatible – with the converter you can use all the lenses in the Nikon lineup.