Close the deal with “Call to Action” in Storytelling

Uber asks, “Know where you are going but need a ride?” Then they offer you options.

Every time you are talking to a client or a potential customer you need to know your intent and the obstacles that are in your way or their way.

Cowgirl Barrel Racing at the 27th Annual Pana’Ewa Stampede Rodeo in Hilo, Hawaii. [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1600, 1/4000, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 300)]

You need to have an objective in mind. Knowing where you want to go is the same as telling the Uber driver where your destination is to be for your trip.

In Barrel Racing the rider wants to complete the course in the least amount of time and the course is around three obstacles which are barrels laid out in a triangle shape on the course.

When I am teaching Storytelling we use the same parts of the story that were outlined by Aristotle in Poetics. He wrote this around 335 BC. It is the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory. The subject wants something and there are obstacles to overcome to get it.

This is great for telling the core of any story, but the one thing that is missing that companies and organizations must have for their storytelling is a “Call to Action.” Now that you have heard this story we want you to do something.

Traditional Advertising Call to Action
  • No obligation: “TRY” is in all caps, the email offers a full refund.
  • Usability: Readers are directed to click “Subscribe Now.”
  • Immediacy: Copy includes the phrase “right away,” and the Call to Action button uses the word “Now.”

 The key for effective Call to Action is to provide people with compelling reasons to ACT NOW rather than defer that action.

Avoid using a passive voice. Use action verbs.

Get straight to the point and make it short and sweet. 

Here is a trick that will make all your Call to Actions successful. Start with the audience and the call to action. Then find the story that will best emotionally connect with them to achieve your “Call To Action.”

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

The title is quote from Helen Keller.

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” 

Michael Jordan
[NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 110, ƒ/5.6, 1/100, 35mm Equivalent=300mm]

How does one learn? How do you grow? I believe the answers to these questions lies in our failures.

If you try and avoid all failure then you will be taking no risks. Without taking these risks you cannot learn.

When watching a PGA golf tournament you see the caddies and golfers referencing these notepads. They have the notes they have taken about the golf course. They are often called yardage books. Here is what they may look like.

PGA golfers cannot play it really safe and win a tournament. They take risks. To take those risks they assess the lie of the ball and pick the place they want to hit the ball. Those that win the tournaments take risks.

We often picture Tiger Woods hitting the green and sinking the put.

However we forget how often he misses.

Rodeo Hawaii High School State Finals The Big Island Bull-riding

The reason bull-riding is a popular sport isn’t because it is easy to do. It is popular because of how hard it is to stay on a bull for 8 seconds.

Rewards come after the risks have been taken.

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don’t over sell your camera to me

Originally posted this on the Facebook Group “Nikon Z6 Z7 Mirrorless Cameras”. This is a repost of it.

I am a little tired of seeing posts that oversell a camera. It comes off as a used car salesman. I think we need to be transparent as possible on the merits of a camera.

There are people who are looking to buy a camera and often are disappointed because they listened to some posts over selling a camera.

Nikon Z6 with Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4

Nikon Z7/Z6 cameras are awesome. I own the Nikon Z6.

We need to go back just to the film cameras just before digital became big in 2002 to remember what I think we forgot.

We had a number of cameras back then.

  • Viewfinder
    • 8×10
    • 5×7
    • 4×5
  • Medium Format
    • 2-1/4″
    • 6×6
    • 645
    • 6×7
    • 6×9
  • 35mm

When digital came along we tried to buy one camera to do it all. The reason was simple those first digital cameras cost as much as $25,000 or more.

Today I think we have slowly returned to where we should be. There are many cameras like the film days that work great for certain types of photography, but there really isn’t one camera that does it all.

I do have to admit that the Nikon D850 comes pretty close to doing it all.

After the Digital revolution in photography we have the mirrorless revolution.

If you do this for a hobby you will most likely just buy a good digital camera that meets most all your needs.

If you are a pro or a amateur with the means to buy more than one camera you will buy at least a backup camera. Then you add those special cameras for the things that work best.

Many pros don’t buy every camera they will use. Many rent those high end medium format cameras for those jobs that need that resolution.

When it comes to Nikon Cameras for the advanced amateur or pro here is how I break down the Nikon Line.

Nikon D5 – The ideal camera for a photojournalist. They are asked to shoot just about everything. They need a great sports camera, good for portraits, low light shooting and also video. Buffer of 200 RAW images is awesome. Also XQD Card Slots for speed.

Nikon D850 – This is one of the best cameras for just about anything. I do believe the Nikon D5 is better for sports due to low-light and frame rate. The large resolution of this camera is a must for the landscape and commercial photographer who needs to make super large prints. Great for video

Nikon D750 – This is a great full-frame camera, but the buffer is small at 6.5 fps. It has a lot of the low light capabilities like the D850 just not the resolution. It is the entry level of the full-frame.

Nikon D500 – While this is a smaller DX format is is pretty much the Nikon D5 in a smaller DX format

Nikon Z7 – This is the mirrorless version of the D850. Due to the way the DSLR focuses it isn’t the same, but close. The fact it has more focus points in some ways it is better. Picking this camera over the D850 is for all the reasons mirrorless has advantages over DSLR.

Nikon Z6 – While very similar to the D750 the buffer is greater with the Z6. This just might be the best video camera as far as mirrorless on the market. It has a higher frame rate than the Z7 and higher ISO than the Z7. I bought it for those two reasons.

Why I like mirrorless
  • Seeing what you are getting
    • White Balance
    • Depth-of-field
    • Exposure
  • Quieter even with mechanical shutter
  • Less need to Fine Tune Auto Focus
  • Optional electronic shutter
  • Lighter
  • More focus points
  • Face and Eye recognition
  • No need for extra gear when doing video

It is great that you are getting sports images with your camera. It is great that you are able to make extremely large prints from you smaller sensor.

When you start to compare your camera by saying who said my ______ Camera can’t shoot __________ is the same as saying my Nikon ______ is as good as the Nikon __________.

That is what I have a problem with.

Show off your wonderful images. Talk about the love of your camera. Just don’t try and say your camera does everything that the entire Nikon line of cameras does, because it doesn’t.

The closest camera to doing that was the Nikon D850, but even it has some limits.

In my opinion there is not one camera that does it all.

Human BEing vs Human DOer

When I teach in college classrooms many students are there to check a box. They need this course to meet the requirements for their degree.

So many people are going through life checking boxes. This is the time of year where many have just checked another box. They graduated from high school or college and now will look for a job.

St. Pius X High School [NIKON D3, 85.0 mm f/1.4, ISO 560, ƒ/1.6, 1/100, Focal Length = 85]

I was raised in a different environment by my parents. My father had been checking boxes his life as well until one night in college he found himself on his knees praying to God and felt God was asking him to change direction.

You see the word vocation actually means a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation. Calling is a synonym for the word.

In some of the classes I have taught in college I found students just trying to meet the minimums. I don’t mean minimum like passing, but rather what are the requirements for an “A” and then proceed to do just enough to get the “A”.

“Mastery is not a commitment to a goal but to a constant pursuit. What gets us to do this, what get us to forward thrust more is to value the near win. How many times have we designated something a classic, a masterpiece even, while its creator considers it hopelessly unfinished, riddled with difficulties and flaws, in other words, a near win?”

Sarah Lewis

Whether your goal is to work for National Geographic as a photojournalist or to get to the finish line of a marathon, to write a book, to find a partner, to be a good parent or a good friend, the feeling of success and satisfaction can be found in the process, not the accomplishment.

[NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/9, 1/125, Focal Length = 48]

This is key to being a successful storyteller to be focused on the process rather than the checkbox.

Wants to know the subjectWants to get the content
Arrives EarlyArrives on time
Leaves LateLeaves Early
Extremely CuriousIndifferent, Uninterested, Average

95% of people who go to Yellowstone National park use only 5% of the park. It has been reported that 90% of the visitors never leave the road and 95% never venture more than 100 feet off the pavement.

I consider those the box checkers. They have been to Yellowstone.

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”

Greg Anderson
Know Your “Why?”

Having a vocation or calling as some might say is being mission minded. You are pursuing something. I believe my calling is to get the know the people that God has put in my life. To develop relationships with these people and get to know them.

When I get to know someone I learn how I can serve them.

Chelle having fun at her high school graduation.

Too many people go to college to get a degree and not enough go to college to learn a subject. I want the engineer who understands physics that builds the bridge I will drive on. I don’t want the engineer who checked off they took the class.

When I was at Georgia Tech I was in a Civil Engineering class where the students were building a bridge out of balsa wood that the professor had given them. The bridge would be tested to see if it held up a certain amount of weight.

Little did they know but the professor gave them faulty plans on purpose. They were to check the design and build it. The lesson wasn’t the building of the design, but rather the ability to think and go back to the professor telling him that the design was flawed. This is a real world example.

Many of the students failed that assignment that day. They were box checkers. Those who really loved learning and were there for the process found the mistake and passed.

Lights, Camera, ACTION!

I really love covering events. Why? You have to constantly problem solve.

Graduation [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/200, Focal Length = 32]

The first problem was to be sure the faces in a group shot were visible. I used two Alienbees B1600 strobes powered by the Paul Buff Vagabond batteries. Now to fire them I was using the Pocketwizard Plus II Transceivers.

The problem to be solved was the group was under a large carport with the background sun lit trees.

Graduation [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/200, Focal Length = 42]

I took photos of the individual graduate with the founders of the school and the administrators. The diploma had to be in every photo and if I was not careful it would have been not legible. Solution, same setup as for the group photo. By using the two Alienbees B1600 lights at 45º angle to each other I was getting a good consistent light for each person.

Graduation [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/200, Focal Length = 38]

To make my post editing go quickly I also did a custom white balance using the ExpoDisc.

John White [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 200, ƒ/9, 1/125, Focal Length = 82]

By the way, while you are here can you make some headshots? Yes I can. Again the same setup, but I just moved closer to the trees and shot some headshots of the founders.

Trudy Cathy White [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 200, ƒ/9, 1/125, Focal Length = 105]

One part of the assignment was to get the first group shot to them before the 5 pm ending time of the event. So I had to carve out a few minutes to get them those group photos for posting on social media.

To get all these photos in a timely manner I chose to work with the Nikon Z6 and the Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4 Art lens. While I shot the group photo at 32mm I had the ability to go wider. I loved shooting the headshots at 105mm.

Graduation [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, ISO 1000, ƒ/1.4, 1/400, Focal Length = 35]

Grandparents, parents, siblings and friends came to celebrate the GAP Year program graduates in Pine Mountain, GA.

I was using the Bluetooth technology to help sync my camera with my phone using Snap Bridge. I was being sure the time was correct and setting the GPS Coordinates.

When I ingested the photos into PhotoMechanic it took those GPS Coordinates and then turned those into street address.

I just click on the world and then it will look for the GPS coordinates and as long as I have an internet connection it will search for the street address.

Now since I was shooting also with my Nikon D5 which doesn’t have the Bluetooth technology I just selected all the images and applied those GPS coordinates to those images as well.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, ISO 1100, ƒ/1.4, 1/400, Focal Length = 35]

The students dressed up in all types of fashion statements. I love this guys tie.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, ISO 1100, ƒ/1.4, 1/400, Focal Length = 35]

This family is from Ecuador. I love his Panama hat.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 1250, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 42]

As soon as I took this photo they asked me in Spanish if they could get copies. Yes they can.

I provide the client an online gallery where they can download the images using a password that I provide.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 1600, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 24]

I was getting candid photos as well as occasionally finding families all together. I would take these as well. I just had to watch the light on the faces. Way too many of the guests were posing people with the windows behind them. I put the large glass windows to the side of them or to my back. Again it is about Lights, Camera and Action!

Trudy Cathy White [NIKON Z 6, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 8000, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 420]

The room was quite large and the best place to stand to get photos of the stage was in the back of the room. This way I wasn’t up front blocking the guests view.

I brought my Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 Sport lens as well as a 1.4X and 2X converters. I started with the 1.4X converter and this is the view it game me and made the lens a 420mm ƒ/4.

Trudy Cathy White [NIKON Z 6, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 20000, ƒ/5.6, 1/200, Focal Length = 600]

I quickly changed the converter to the 2X which gave me this view with the now 600mm ƒ/5.6. Once again I am problem solving. This time it is the camera and lens combination allowing me to get photos that no cell phone will get.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON Z 6, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/125, Focal Length = 600]

As you can see this is what the guest was getting with their phone.

Trudy Cathy White [NIKON Z 6, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/200, Focal Length = 600]

I moved around the room with the long lens and looked for different perspectives. I thought with some speakers the microphone was too much in front of their face from the back of the room.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON Z 6, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 45600, ƒ/5.6, 1/400, Focal Length = 600]

I didn’t feel the need to have to move to get different angle with every speaker.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON D5, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 3600, ƒ/2.8, 1/100, Focal Length = 200]

I was shooting with three cameras and various lenses. My wife also shot some photos with a camera.

  • 2 Nikon D5 cameras
  • Nikon Z6
  • Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4 Art
  • Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 Art
  • Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8
  • Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 | Sport
  • Fuji X-E3
  • Fuji 18-55mm ƒ/2.8-3.5
  • Fuji 10-24mm

The lenses I used for different reasons. First of all I am not shooting one specific style. I do not shoot all prime lenses wide open which many people do. I love the shallow depth-of-field shots.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, ISO 1000, ƒ/1.4, 1/400, Focal Length = 35]

I also realize when shooting that large group shot I needed to be at a larger depth-of-field. This is why I shot those photos at ƒ/8. The front row and back row is all in focus.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON D5, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 280, ƒ/2.8, 1/100, Focal Length = 175]

I love to isolate moments using the shallow depth-of-field and also know that sometimes you need more.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON D5, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 320, ƒ/2.8, 1/100, Focal Length = 200]
Technical & Aesthetic

Just yesterday on a forum a photographer was asking if the new camera will make you a better photographer. This was the old argument that it isn’t the camera but the operator. However, I wasn’t going to take this click bait as it was setup.

“It will make you technically better–Aesthetically the same.”

Stanley Leary

These new cameras today let me make photos that just years ago were not possible without a flash.

So I pride myself on knowing my gear and how it can help me get photos I couldn’t do before. So, I try and keep my gear updated. I am also aware that you can have a technically perfect photo that just has no aesthetic qualities.

Social Work Training – Capturing Action!

It is all my training in reading body language and studying the masters in photojournalism that has helped me to concentrate my efforts to capture moments. I was trained in social work to read people. I was evaluated over and over on how well I was listening with my eyes and not just my ears.

Adequate photographers are more technicians. They get the photos in focus and well exposed.

Great photographers are doing more than being a technician. They are using the camera to capture moments that help tell a story.

IMPACT 360 Graduation [NIKON D5, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 450, ƒ/2.8, 1/100, Focal Length = 200]

I like moments like this one. The students are showing how much respect they have for this teacher of their’s from this year. No words are necessary to communicate their respect. You just need words to know why they are giving him this type of respect.

Do you want to learn how to cover meeting better? Do you need me to cover your event? Give me a call and let’s talk. I teach one-on-one sessions and also love to just use my gifts to help you capture those important moments in life that happen only once.

Bananas & Coffee

While doing a story on coffee growers in Salvador Urbina, Chiapas, Mexico the farmers educated me on how they produce the Arabica Bean Coffee.

David Velázquez shows off his banana trees that are helping with the shade for the coffee plants. [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 4000, ƒ/6.3, 1/2500, Focal Length = 24]

I learned that the arabica coffee does best with shade. The tree requires some but not too much direct sunlight; two hours a day seems ideal. The lacy leaves of the upper levels of the rain forest originally shaded the coffee tree.

Banana Tree [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 4000, ƒ/6.3, 1/800, Focal Length = 55]

When they prune the banana trees you can see the trunks, which to me look liked corrugated cardboard. Those channels help the water get to the leaves and bananas.

Salvador Urbina, Chiapas, Mexico is in a rain forrest. Salvador Urbina has significant rainfall most months, with a short dry season. 

David Velázquez loves to talk about how Just Coffee and Frontera de Cristo helped him to return home after working on golf courses in Metro Atlanta for years. [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 4000, ƒ/6.3, 1/1000, Focal Length = 62]

What can we learn from these coffee growers?

The production of coffee is a time and labor intensive process. From the moment of plantation of the first coffee seeds it can take three to four years before a newly planted coffee tree will began bearing fruits.

10 Steps from Seed to Cup
  • Planting
  • Harvesting the Cherries
  • Processing the Cherries
  • Drying the Beans
  • Milling the Beans
  • Exporting the Beans
  • Tasting the Coffee
  • Roasting the Coffee
  • Grinding the Coffee
  • Brewing the Coffee
Fair Trade

Fair trade was started in response to the dire struggles of Mexican coffee farmers following the collapse of world coffee prices in the late 1980s.

Fair Trade coffee is coffee that is certified as having been produced to fair tradestandards. Fair trade organizations create trading partnerships that are based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. … Fair trade practices prohibit child or forced labor.

Café Justo was the coffee cooperative I partnered with to help tell their story back in 2010. I had been producing videos just for a short time and this was a turning point for me. We focused on telling the story focusing on the crisis the farmers were suffering and the difference the cooperative made in their families and communities.

Listen to what I captured back in 2010:

Maybe you are like those coffee farmers who had to leave their farms to find work to feed their families. You see by just learning to come together and tell their story, the consumer didn’t pay more for coffee they changed where they bought their coffee. You can support these coffee growers by buying their coffee here at Just Coffee.

Just Coffee [NIKON D3S, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 4000, ƒ/6.3, 1/2500, Focal Length = 120]

While forming a cooperative and selling directly to the customer helped the coffee growers to prosper, it wasn’t the cooperative, the roaster or their willingness to come together that made them successful.

It was when they told their stories that customers rallied behind them. People are waking up to the basic unfairness of world trade and demanding a better deal for the people who do our dirty work. Are you getting a bargain or exploiting people when you always shop for price alone.

Are you telling your story? Remember what made a difference in the Fair Trade movement was the telling of the stories of people being exploited.

Once you have your customers don’t stop telling stories. Now tell a different story. How about how bananas help produce great tasting arabica coffee?

Picking the “Right” story

We all know that if you want to get someone’s attention tell a story. We also know that not all stories are engaging.

Alaska Fisherman (photo by Don Rutledge)

I believe way too many companies are picking stories like people fish–toss a line in the water and see what bites.

Finding a good story in your organization is like looking for a great quote. That person’s story that you tell will be very useful because they’re story is succinct distillations of the larger pool of people that you serve.

A good story also affirms what we already know about ourselves. The story helps your to reaffirm your beliefs and helps to define the category of the brand you are.

Spring Dance Concert Columbus State University [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 120-300mm f/2.8G IF-ED, ISO 4500, ƒ/2.8, 1/800, Focal Length = 210]

This past weekend I was able to see my daughter’s Spring Dance Concert. I photographed the event for the school to use for their recruiting and promotion.

While editing the some 2,600 images I was reminded that distilling the event down to a few images was communicating what they hope to become and also what they were doing. They only have a dance minor at the time and are in the process of creating a dance major.

My daughter Chelle [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 120-300mm f/2.8G IF-ED, ISO 14400, ƒ/2.8, 1/800, Focal Length = 240]
Biggest Mistake

One of the biggest mistakes organizations make when picking a story to tell is to pick one based on politics rather than the strength of the story.

I have been consulting for many years with organizations and over and over the people they want to feature is often someone who has been around a long time or is very popular.

Here are the key elements in a story that help you identify the best story for your organization to tell.

  • There is a before state and an after state that is radically different. This is before your organization made a difference in their life and after they encountered the organization.
  • This was a crisis of sorts. They had a real problem and the organization helped to solve it. The key here is when comparing their crisis to other possible people for your story that their crisis was the worst.
  • Their story represents your target audience’s crisis that you will problem solve as an organization.
Spring Dance Concert Columbus State University [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 120-300mm f/2.8G IF-ED, ISO 8000, ƒ/2.8, 1/800, Focal Length = 210]
Too Close

One of the problems for most companies and organizations is they are just like the dancers–they are too close. They cannot see what they look like from the audience’s perspective.

Even the directors of broadway that go into the audience seats and give feedback to those on the stage, they lack the ability often to truly separate themselves from the production and see it with fresh eyes.

Spring Dance Concert Columbus State University [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 120-300mm f/2.8G IF-ED, ISO 7200, ƒ/2.8, 1/800, Focal Length = 195]

When I started as a photographer I was given a story to execute. To get better my mentor Don Rutledge encouraged me to go and find stories and do them. I did this for many years and syndicated those stories through Black Star and Camera Press.

If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.

Jim Richardson

I learned very quickly the story you picked had more influence on the outcome than execution alone.

After shooting and writing a lot of poor choice stories through the years I slowly realized I was pitching more and more stories to editors. When I did those stories they got much better engagement than those I was given.

The better I got to know my clients and what they were doing to help their customers I was pitching no longer just interesting stories, but now strategic stories.

Another Mistake

Don’t pursue those stories that only entertain and do not move people to the “Call To Action” for your organization.

Be sure the stories you pick point to what you do best and how you can help the audience with similar problems.

If you are a profit oriented company you are solving problems for the audience. If you are a nonprofit you are asking the audience to join you in helping solve a problem. 


Picking the right story to tell is the key to your companies success. Once you have done this your next step will be to identify another story. Your success is directly related to communicating what you do to solve a problem for a person. Then you must consistently execute doing this for those who respond and ask you to fix their problem.

Tell people what you do through a story. Do what you tell people you do. Continue to improve in the execution of your service and repeat this process.

Spring Dance Concert Columbus State University [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 120-300mm f/2.8G IF-ED, ISO 8000, ƒ/2.8, 1/800, Focal Length = 140]

Are you in alignment?

The purpose of doing an alignment for your car is to reduce tire wear, and to ensure that vehicle travel is straight and true (without “pulling” to one side). Alignment angles can also be altered beyond the maker’s specifications to obtain a specific handling characteristic. Motorsport and off-road applications may call for angles to be adjusted well beyond “normal”, for a variety of reasons.

Tire [X-E3, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/120, Focal Length = 27]

Being out of alignment with your car shows up as uneven tire wear.

Being out of alignment in your work causes your organization and you to not getting the best performance. Like tires that get worn unevenly you will become worn out prematurely.

When the tire isn’t aligned it actually creates resistance and that is what causes the uneven tire wear.

Pre-K class trip to Alpharetta Children’s Dentistry [NIKON D100, AF Zoom 24-70mm f/2.8D, ISO 800, ƒ/2.8, 1/80, Focal Length = 36]

People are nicer when you are in alignment at work. Like all the wheels on a car when they are all aligned to the vehicle it goes straight and true. The key is at work you should be aligned to the purpose of that organization. If you don’t like the organization’s purpose then find a different job.

When you’re in alignment, everything lines up for you. Everything seems effortless and easy because you’ve already done “the work” energetically. You feel like your team has your back because you’ve surrendered. You are not pushing your agenda. You are finding ways to serve the mission statement.

When you are in alignment you don’t have a strong sense of ‘need’ around what you want to manifest. You are open to your desire manifesting in different ways, and you are not attached to ‘how’ it has to happen.

For me my faith has helped a great deal. I really feel that God has got it under control. Now I have to remind myself of this every once in a while. When I do it really releases tension.

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.

Psalms 25:4

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The LORD works out everything to its proper end — even the wicked for a day of disaster.

Proverbs 16:3-4

If you report to anyone then ask some questions which will help you align with the organization.

  • What does success look like a year from now for the organization?
  • What can I do to help this be achieved?
  • Is there anything I am doing that I need to stop doing?
  • Are there any books, workshops or seminars I need to improve that you suggest?
St. Martin’s Baseball Team [NIKON D4, 120.0-300.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/640, Focal Length = 300]

In baseball the batter must respond to what is pitched to them. They do not control the pitch. They only control their response to that pitch.

The best hitters are those who keep their eye on the ball and have spent a lot of time in a batting cage working on their swing.

Island Breeze World Impact Tour [NIKON D3S, 14-24mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/3.2, 1/500, Focal Length = 14]

Get in alignment to experience a life of less resistance. Learn to ‘Go With The Flow‘ – be relaxed and accept a situation, rather than trying to alter or control it.

Fruit of your Labor

We displayed the fruits of our labor at the county fair. What have you accomplished? Where is the fruit of your labors?


If you are like most you also measure a lot of your self worth from what you do. When you do this the next most likely thing done is then to compare what you produce to others.

The Citadel’s Lacrosse team competed against Reinhardt during tournament at Northview High School in John’s Creek, Georgia on April 23, 2016. [NIKON D5, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 Sport, TC-2001, ISO 560, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000, Focal Length = 440]

Georgia Tech’s #2 Isma’il Muhammad slams one early over NC State’s #11 Gavin Grant during play at the Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia, February 13, 2005. [NIKON D100, 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 , ISO 400, ƒ/6.7, 1/180, Focal Length = 67]

How good is your game? That seems to be what drives many photographers. They compare their work to other photographers.

Oxnard Chick-fil-A soccer team. Oxnard, CA [NIKON D5, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 50, Ä/11, 1/200, Focal Length = 14]

Once I started to do freelance full-time I shifted my focus to observing successful photographers. I started to watch those who were busy and not basing that decision on how their photos looked.

Island Breeze was founded in Samoa and has multiple locations around the world. Our team’s main focus is sharing the true essence of Aloha to the ends of the earth. [NIKON D3S, 14-24mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/3.2, 1/500, Focal Length = 14]

About eleven years ago I started to hire photographers for my clients. That is when I got to see really why certain photographers were busy.

Photo Skills

First of all for a person to get hired to shoot for a client there work must meet some bare minimums for that client. Let me explain that the skill level is a lot lower than many photographers think it should be, but that is reality.

To be considered the photographer must produce photos that are well exposed and in focus. Now the fascinating thing about hiring photographers was all the other stuff that made me either want to hire them again or never use them again.

Naomi Ouattara plays with her older sister Anne in Soubakamedougou, Burkina Faso, West Africa
Negotiating Skills

When I would call photographers asking them to do some work how they handled that first phone call and negotiating our contract determined pretty much the rest of the relationship.

I need to know the price, the terms and when I will get the photos. It was a two way street on this. The photographer also needed to know this from their perspective.

If a photographer after we have agreed on everything then wants to negotiate more then this was a clear indication of someone who was going to take too much of my time. I need the photographer to shoot and deliver with as little problem as possible.

Mark Adams enjoys cup of coffee with David Velázquez Just Coffee Cooperative farmer. [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 9000, ƒ/2.8, 1/100, Focal Length = 14]
People Skills

What I was really surprised about is that there are many photographers who can get some really great photos of people’s expressions, but have poor people skills.

However, I must say that most of the time those photographers with good expressions in their photos of people tended to have better people skills than most.

Most of my clients are concerned with how did the photographer do with the people when they were shooting more than just how were their photos. You see the photographers are representing them when they show up. This is why many clients will put a staff person on set to go between the photographers and the subjects because they don’t want problems later.

I hired many photographers once that I would not hire again, because the word came back that they were difficult to work with. Then there are other photographers that actually make the client look better than if they were there.

Final Product – The Photos

I am surprised as to how many photographers take way too long to get the photos to the client. When I am hiring photographers I need them to rename the photos with a very specific file naming nomenclature so that the photos will work with the database that they are put into for the client.

In addition to the file naming I need the metadata filled out as well. This is all part of the negotiating I have done with the photographer when first hiring them for the job.

You would be surprised as to how many do not follow through. So, I get the photos numbered the way they came out of the camera with no metadata. Now this creates a problem because I have to contact the photographer and ask them to fix the images and upload them again. This delays now the client seeing the images.

I have had a few photographers get the photos to me after the deadline and we couldn’t use them for the initial purpose.

Final tips to increase the fruits of your labor
  • Negotiating – Keep it simple. Don’t use industry jargon unless absolutely necessary. Be realistic and do not over promise.
  • People Skills – Listen, communicate & relate on a personal/professional level. Good people skills also extend to include problem-solving abilities, empathy for others and a willingness to work together toward the common good. Reply to your emails promptly. Value your client’s point-of-view.
  • Photos – Deliver to the client photos in the way you negotiated. WOW clients by under promising and over delivering.
  • Be clear and transparent –Customer loyalty increases also based on how mistakes are being handled. Studies show that up to 70 percent of unhappy customers transform into loyal customers if the mistake has been fixed exceeding their expectations.

Embracing Vulnerability and Putting Yourself Out There

Lauren McGuire performs her comedy routine at The Basement Theatre in Buckhead. The show is Produced by Mark Evans. [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED, ISO 22800, ƒ/5.6, 1/200, Focal Length = 300]

Jeff Justice is a standup comedian that in 1990 was noticing many beginners in comedy could use some help. He gave a few of them tips to rewrite their material so that the jokes were better. He also gave some tips on timing in delivery of those lines.

Surprised that some of them listened and even more surprised with a group of them asked him to do a workshop.

Bonnie Works Gardner performs at The Basement Theatre [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 22800, ,ƒ/5.6, 1/200, Focal Length = 125]

Here is a quick overview I did for Jeff back in 2012.

My wife took both of Jeff’s classes. Now the hard part is after your graduation standup routine at the Punchline the next step is no longer a class, but a live and unforgiving audience.

Mark Evans [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED, ISO 22800, ƒ/4.8, 1/200, Focal Length = 68]

Mark Evans took Jeff’s class back in 1993 and it changed his life. He is a successful comedian today. His latest tour Southern Not Stupid is where you can see him perform.

He remembers that the graduation night was such a fun event and wanted somehow to recapture that time where the audience was a little more forgiving than jumping straight into the hecklers that can be in a typical audience.

Amy Lyle performing her comedy at The Basement Theatre in Buckhead located in Atlanta, Georgia. [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED, ISO 20000, ƒ/4.8, 1/200, Focal Length = 65]

Sunday night, April 29, 2019 was the first Jeff Justice Comedy Workshoppe Alumni show organized by Mark Evans at The Basement Theatre located in Buckhead section of Atlanta, Georgia.

While helping the students write better jokes is central to Jeff’s workshops, he is also helping them with timing. Delivery is everything. Jeff often says that saying, “‘I’m a wild and crazy guy’ isn’t funny. But Steve Martin delivering it like he did was hilarious.”

The Basement Theatre [NIKON Z 6, VR Zoom 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED, ISO 9000, ƒ/4.2, 1/200, Focal Length = 45]

I think Mark Evans knows that the one thing that everyone needs to get better is practice. It is only by doing this enough times that you help manage those butterflies so you can get that Comedic Timing down for delivering a joke that gets laughs.

While you are putting yourself out there by performing once, you really don’t improve until you do it consistently.

No matter what you want to learn to do, taking a class is just the first step. You must work on your craft. Put yourself out there consistently and you too have a better chance of making it.

For photographers, you need to shoot lots of photos and share them. Then you must embrace the honest critiques of your work. That is how you grow.