Why you should be data-informed and not data-driven

Storytellers Abroad Multimedia Workshop [X-E2, XF18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 400, ƒ/4.5, 1/150, Focal Length = 83]

In data driven decision making, data is at the center of the decision making. It’s the primary (and sometimes, the only) input. You rely on data alone to decide the best path forward. In data informed decision making, data is a key input among many other variables. You use the data to build a deeper understanding of what value you are providing to your users.

I have sat in many meetings hearing about analytics. When I first learned about analytics I was thrilled. You see one of the things that is very frustrating is how the content you create is seen but no one clicks the LIKE button.

However, analytics doesn’t rely on the audience to “LIKE” your content to know if they have been to it or even shared it. It can record if someone came to the page and how long they were on the page as well as many other tidbits.

FANZONE for the Georgia vs Alabama SEC Championship game Georgia World Congress Center[NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 65535, ƒ/4.8, 1/4000, Focal Length = 62]

Are you aware of “Blind Spots” in your analytics such as images?

Images are increasingly taking over social media and becoming a major way of engaging and talking about your brand. Images are generally more memorable and shareable than text.

There are over  300 million active daily users on Instagram alone, it’s clear images are a huge social commodity. But why is the intent behind sharing images such a big deal? For starters, not all images are accompanied by text. Sometimes the whole point is that words can’t adequately convey the emotion or event, so it’s shared in image form. If your social media listening is all about text, these posts and users aren’t accounted for in your analytics. This is your “Blind Spot”.

What this means is there is really no way to get accurate analytics about photos, unless you could employ eye tracking technology. Most people are not going to allow for their cameras on their phones and computers to be turned on to watch how they are behaving while looking at your content.

Georgia vs Alabama [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 14400, ƒ/5.6, 1/250, Focal Length = 52]

Why are clickbaity headlines working? Content that piques users’ curiosity does well. Instead of writing clickbaity headlines, can we integrate this insight it into our content strategy. Write about topics that people are curious about, but may not know enough.

I think Henry Ford once said, ‘If I‘d asked customers what they wantedthey would have told me, “A faster horse!”’ People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”

Steve Jobs
Lifeshape Third Annual Legacy of Leaders Golf Classic [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250, Focal Length = 35]

Editorial judgment is still needed alongside analysis of quantitative data. Each newspaper and station adopts its own news values. Having good “news judgement” means you understand your audience and your organizations principles and values.

Being a good storyteller/journalist is very much akin to being a good parent/teacher. You do rely on data to help you know what is working and at the same time you are looking out for them and distill information into a digestable form for them.

Too Much BOKEH

Christmas Ornaments [NIKON Z 6, Sigma Art Zoom 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 2.5]

When shoot wide open aperture and then also get as close as a lens will let you get to the subject you will get the shallowest depth-of-field possible with that lens.

Take a look at the photo above shot at ƒ/4 and then this is the same photo zoomed in closer.

Christmas Ornaments [NIKON Z 6,Sigma Art Zoom 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM , ISO 100, ƒ/4, 2.5]

Now the only way to really see what I am talking about is to shoot the same photo with different apertures.

Christmas Ornaments [NIKON Z 6, Sigma Art Zoom 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM, ISO 100, ƒ/16, 2.5]

Now here is a closeup of that ƒ/16 photo.

Christmas Ornaments [NIKON Z 6, Sigma Art Zoom 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM, ISO 100, ƒ/16, 2.5]

Now I shot this at a variety of apertures. Here it is at ƒ/8.

Christmas Ornaments [NIKON Z 6, Sigma Art Zoom 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 5]

Here is a closeup of that photo.

Christmas Ornaments [NIKON Z 6, Sigma Art Zoom 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 5]

What I have discovered with all my lenses is that the depth-of-field at the widest aperture and focusing as close as the lens can will produce what looks to be an out of focus photo, but what is really happening is the depth-of-field is so shallow that it looks soft.

When getting this close to a subject I recommend starting with an aperture of ƒ/11.

Here I shot this at ƒ/11. I also changed my ISO from 100 to Auto ISO which gave me ISO 51200 because I have the shutter speed set to 1/100. As you might notice the shutter dropped to actually 1/50. That is because I had capped at ISO 51200.

Christmas Ornaments [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 51200, ƒ/11, 1/50]

Here is a closeup of that photo, which you will notice some noise.

Christmas Ornaments [NIKON Z 6, Sigma Art Zoom 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM, ISO 51200, ƒ/11, 1/50]

When it comes to still life photos like the ones here there is really no reason not to experiment. Shoot on a tripod, as I have done here, at different apertures. Shoot at ISO 100, ƒ/16 and for 20 seconds. Then shoot as many apertures as you can to the widest aperture. 

When you have the photos on your computer zoom in and find the photo that works the best to make your object appear sharp and in focus as well as the soft BOKEH. 

Hopefully you also see that there is such a thing as TOO MUCH BOKEH.

Headshot for Opera Singer

One of my daughter’s good friends from church youth choir Sarah Clements asked me to help her with some headshots. She is a soprano majoring in voice.

She is in her junior year of college getting closer to graduation. She is thinking of now having to promote herself for jobs. Headshots are needed since casting often involves getting someone to look the part.

Sarah Clements [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/160]

We took a lot of photos together. I enjoyed using my new Nikon Z6 camera paired with the Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G lens. The quality is incredible with this combination.

Sarah Clements [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/160]

This is a close up of the photo above. The detail is beyond remarkable to me.

I always want to get the best possible photos during a photo shoot. 

I started with almost 300 images that after editing for slightly missing the focus due to such a shallow depth-of-field and also occasional blinks I was able to give her over 200+ images.

Sarah Clements [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/160]

What I love about photographing artists is they understand nuance. As a professional musician Sarah has to know more than the mechanics of music theory. She knows the difference of being slightly out of tune and in tune. The difference of each note blending properly in a choral group.

Together we can work on tweaking face expressions and lighting to get that just perfect combination that captures the person’s personality in the best possible light.

Closeup of the above photo
Sarah Clements [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/160]

I am really loving the finished images I am getting with the Nikon Z6. 

Sarah Clements [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/160]

By the way today everyone needs a headshot. Do you have one?

Nikon Z6 vs Fuji X-E3

Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM , ISO 8000, ƒ/4, 1/100]

This is just a quick comparison shooting some ornaments on my tree. First this is using my Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM on the Nikon Z6 using the FTZ Mount Adapter.

Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [X-E3, XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 10000, ƒ/4, 1/100]

With the Fuji I am using the kit lens XF 18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4. It is close to the same format when I shot it to compare to the 35mm. 

Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM, ISO 16000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]
Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [X-E3, XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/52]

Here I am shooting with telephoto range using the Nikon 85mm.

Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [NIKON Z 6, Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G, ISO 4500, ƒ/4, 1/100]
Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [X-E3, XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/100]

Here I cropped in to about 100% 

Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [NIKON Z 6, Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM, ISO 8000, ƒ/4, 1/100]
Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [X-E3, XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 10000, ƒ/4, 1/100]
Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [NIKON Z 6, Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G, ISO 4500, ƒ/4, 1/100]
Comparing Fuji X-E3 vs Nikon Z6 [X-E3, XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/100]

Overall I think the Nikon Z6 focused faster. I was using the point to focus. I did the same thing with the Fuji X-E3 but there is a little back and forth with the Fuji.

The larger sensor gave a cleaner file and less noise with the Nikon Z6 in my opinion.

What I did notice is that the Fuji kit lens compares nicely to the two sharpest lenses I own for the Nikons.

When it comes to travel I still would prefer to carry the smaller Fuji. I think I give up a little performance to pick it, but less weight.

When it comes to performance I believe the Nikon wins.

Learning to “Peel the Onion” in Storytelling

Stanley teaching at University of Nations in Kona, Hawaii. [top photo by Dorie Griggs, bottom photo by Robin Nelson] [Nikon D810, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 3200, ƒ/7.1, 1/60]
While in college majoring in social work I discovered the power of photography. Specifically, I discovered that photojournalism did the best job I could find in educating people about the world around them.

Before graduating with my degree in social work I had to do an internship in the field. I found an internship working at the mental health center in Kinston, NC.

When counseling a person, I would “peel the onion” as we would say to move from the symptoms to the cause for a problem in a person’s life. Most of the time when someone was suffering it takes them longer to see the root cause of their problem.

While I was in college I was also taking photos for the school newspaper. I saw quickly how a photograph helped “peel the onion” for a community. Mirroring is a therapeutic technique where you repeat back to a client, usually in your own words but sometimes word for word, the idea that has just been expressed. It can literally be as simple as: Client: “I felt hurt and confused.”

I discovered that a photograph was even more powerful than the mirroring technique.

I just finished grading the students in Introduction to Photojournalism Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

More than half of the two classes I taught had never owned a camera other than the one on their phone. I was teaching them the mechanics of photography and also how to tell stories as a photojournalist.

What I discovered is the one skill that they needed more than how to use their camera was how to “peel the onion” of the subject.

Togo, West Africa [Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/200]
The photojournalists that consistently tell powerful stories are the ones who spend more time getting to know their subjects.

I would love to help you if you don’t know how to “peel the onion” of a story. In January I am going to Lima, Peru with a few other instructors who have the same calling to help 10 workshop participants to become storytellers using their cameras.

Each person will work with a person to tell their story. While working on the story they will have one-on-one time with the instructors to coach them each day through the process. By the end of a week they will show to the community a short 3 to 5-minute video that has the subject telling their own story.

I will do this again in March in Trinidad and then this coming summer we will bring the team together again and go to Bucharest, Romania. Maybe you want to join us.

James Dockery enjoys taking photos and showing the boys in the Balkans their photos.

Go here to sign up for our trip.  You can also contact me for one-on-one classes or we can put together a workshop for your organization.

Faith and Human Rights with Jimmy Carter

President George H. W. Bush addresses the Unification Conference. The Atlanta-based German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States hosted the Unification Conference, a historic meeting of President George Bush, 41st president of the United States of America, former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Dr. Helmut Kohl and former Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorachev, at the Georgia World Congress Center on October 3, 2003. The three world leaders discussed their perspectives on the global impact of the fall of the Berlin Wall and unification of Germany, along with their visions for transatlantic partnership, leadership and prosperity. [NIKON D100, Sigma 120-300mm + 2X, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/30]
Today our country buried former President George H. W. Bush. In attendance were all the current living former presidents including Jimmy Carter.

Conversations at The Carter Center Harmonizing Religion and Human Rights [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/200]
I had an appointment with President Jimmy Carter today. Dorie, my wife, had signed us up to be at the Conversations at The Carter Center: Humanizing Religion and Human Rights where President Jimmy Carter was host and on the panel.

If you want to watch the presentation here is that video link.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs the exec director or T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights speaks during the Conversations at The Carter Center on Harmonizing Religion and Human Rights Wednesday, December 5, 2018. [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/200]
It was quite refreshing to hear from the three Abrahamic Faiths: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam as to how the individual faiths address Human Rights.

Imam Omar Suleiman speaks during the Conversations at The Carter Center on
Harmonizing Religion and Human Rights Wednesday, December 5, 2018. [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 14400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200]
For those reading this for photography comments on the Nikon Z6 I want to talk about two things I tested the camera on. First I tried to shoot on Silent Mode, which is electronic shutter, but got banding.

Banding due to using the Silent Mode. [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/200]
I also shot just a couple shots at pretty high ISOs.

Conversations at The Carter Center Harmonizing Religion and Human Rights [NIKON Z 6, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 32000, ƒ/10, 1/200]
This photo is shot at ISO 32000 and cropped a bit as well. I was really impressed with the high ISO with the new Nikon Z6.

While I enjoyed testing the camera, I really kept pinching myself. I have had many opportunities through the years to be in the presence of President Jimmy Carter. No matter which president in history it would still be rare for most of us to have so many opportunities unless you are friend/family or work for their administration to have this type of opportunity.

Atlanta is blessed to have The Carter Center in our backyard. We plan to go back to Plains, GA to hear President Jimmy Carter teach Sunday School once again.

I admire all he has done with The Carter Center. I also enjoy his Sunday School class.

What a privilege it is to listen to him.


My first assignments with the Nikon Z6

Georgia vs Alabama, Fanzone Georgia World Congress Center [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm ƒ/4.0, ISO 5600, ƒ/8, 1/60]
This past week I picked up the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. In just s few days I was able to put it through some assignments.

[NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ISO 100,f/3.2, 1/125]
The first assignment I did with the camera was a headshot. I was thrilled with the performance of the camera with the headshot. The 85mm ƒ/1.8 never looked this sharp before to me.

Before I did this first assignment I did run tests and the very first thing I realized is the files will not open in PhotoShop or Lightroom. The camera is so new that the RAW files are not readable.

The BETA-Version Adobe RAW converter is available on:

Georgia vs Alabama
Georgia World Congress Center [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 11400, ƒ/5.6, 1/250]
The second assignment was shooting the SEC Fanzone event at the Championship game between Alabama and Georgia.

Georgia vs Alabama
Georgia World Congress Center [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 1100, ƒ/5.6, 1/30]
Georgia vs Alabama
Georgia World Congress Center [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 2200, ƒ/5.6, 1/50]
Georgia vs Alabama
Georgia World Congress Center [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 900, ƒ/5.6, 1/30]
Georgia vs Alabama
Georgia World Congress Center [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/125]
I was enjoying using all my Nikon F-mount lenses and seeing what you will get before you press the shutter. I enjoyed the incredible sharpness due to no more anti-aliasing over the sensor.

I shot a little over a thousand images at the Fanfest with the Nikon Z6. I got a lot of great shots and was please with the performance of the camera.

Georgia vs Alabama
Georgia World Congress Center [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 400, ƒ/5.6, 1/25]
I had to use on camera flash to get this photo of Hines Ward with a young fan. The photo of Ward behind them was super bright jumbotron and the only way to get them from not being silhouetted was with a flash. The Godox V860iiN worked just great with the camera.

[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 8000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]
After all day shooting I charged up my batteries for the camera and me. By the way I used three batteries all day shooting with the Nikon Z6.

Then Sunday I shot another 1000+ images at a church covering all type of settings. Once again the Nikon Z6 performed flawlessly.

[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 4000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]
The camera without putting it into silent mode was already quiet as compared to my Nikon D5 which I was also shooting.

[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]
I think the files look much better than my other Nikon D5 files. I think the new CMOS sensor with the combination of the new Expeed 6 processor is giving much sharper images out of the camera.

[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 22800, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]
In those tricky lighting situations with mixed lighting it is so cool to see what you will get before you click the shutter.

I think the Z6 performed really well and compared very similarly to the Nikon D750 that I used to own. I do think the Nikon D5 is the camera for sports and out performs the Nikon Z6 in responsiveness. Well it ought to be better at a ticket price of $6,500.

The best part of the Nikon Z6 for me is to have all the things I love about mirrorless, but now able to use all my Nikon glass.

Every Sunday Christians Re-experience Their Story

Siberia—Working with outsiders means listening and being heard, according to Eduard Genrich, of Second Baptist Church in Novosibirsk. People here say they are encouraged and helped by outsiders, but taken advantage of by some. (photo by Don Rutledge)

The order of worship in churches is based on the only full worship service we have recorded in scripture which is Isaiah 6:1-8.

When we start the service the first thing that happens is acknowledging we have come into the presence of God. This is similar to how you start a story and introduce characters.

When we meet God in this moment it will cause us to be reminded of our sin, which is also similar to a story needing crisis/tension. This is where in worship we acknowledge there is nothing we can do and only God’s grace is able to save us. But first we must confess.

This dialogue continues between man and God in worship where after we confess and God has forgiven us, then God is asking who will go. This is like in the storyline where the mentor is outlining to the main character what they need to do to overcome their crisis.

Often this is where the homily/sermon is given that gives us more insights on how to live our lives. This is the direction given to all main subjects in a story that then they go and then live out those instructions.

Emily Wright during the Easter Services at Roswell Presbyterian Church.

Here is the scripture that both Christians and Jews use to create their order of worship.

Isaiah 6:1-8 

REVELATION– verse 1: “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

ADORATION– verse 3: “And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'”

CONFESSION– verse 5: “Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.'”

EXPIATION– verse 6-7: “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.'”

PROCLAMATION– verse 8a: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?'”

DEDICATION– verse 8b: “Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.'”

SUPPLICATION– verse 11: “Then I said, ‘How long, O Lord?'”

COMMISSION– verse 9: “And he said, ‘Go, and say to this people…'”

Roswell Presbyterian Church

If you look at this order and then compare it to the Narrative Storyline you will see they have a lot in common.

PLOT – a series of incidents that are related to one another, what happens in a story, includes 5 stages (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution)

EXPOSITION – usually in the beginning of a story, where the characters, setting, and conflict (problem) are introduced

RISING ACTION – the part of the story where the conflict(s) develop, in which the suspense and interest builds

CLIMAX – the turning point or most exciting moment of a story, in which the main character comes face to face with the main conflict and a change happens

FALLING ACTION – all the loose ends of the plot are tied up, the conflict and climax are taken care of in this part of the story, and the suspense is eased

RESOLUTION – where the story comes to a reasonable ending and the outcome is resolved

Roswell Presbyterian Church

Here is how I see these lining up
Worship Service Narrative Story
Revelation Exposition
Confession Tension/Struggle
Expiation Climax
Proclamation Falling Action
Commission Resolution

All the stories in scripture have flawed characters who either turn to God for help and are obedient to those directions or they refuse to be obedient. Now many of those stories involve a series of times where well intentioned characters continue to come back to God and ask for forgiveness for not being obedient.

I believe the reason this format is used in worship is that it forces us to process our faith in story form. It continues to remind us that like all characters in a story that we live in crisis that we cannot solve on our own. We need help. In the stories of Hollywood you need THE FORCE in the Star Wars movies to take on your enemies. You go to someone like Yoda to be trained.

New hymnal celebration event at Presbyterian Church [NIKON D4, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.3, 1/30]
In the Disney stories like Cinderella she needed a Fairy God Mother to help her.

We are moved by stories because we can relate. While the problems are different, they are problems that the main character, like us, cannot solve alone.

The other cool thing about worship services as it relates to storytelling is that it has a soundtrack. The music in worship services helps to set the tone for stories to be told and as we resonate with those stories we are reminded of the story we are living.


Thanksgiving is a lot about food

Charleston, SC [X-E2, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 400, ƒ/10, 1/100]
Thanksgiving is a time for many people to stuff ourselves with food.

Just Coffee Cooperative in Salvador Urbina, Chiapas, Mexico [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 720, ƒ/7.1, 1/100]
I am reminded of the many meals I have shared with people around the world.

Just Coffee Cooperative in El Aguila, Chiapas, Mexico [NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/200]
Our family traditionally cooks a turkey.

Thanksgiving 2013 [COOLPIX P7000, ISO 1600, ƒ/8, 1/18]
Thanksgiving 2013 [COOLPIX P7000, ISO 1600, ƒ/2.8, 1/210]
We get together around food a lot through our lives.

Tami Chappel organized a memorial time for us at Manuel’s Tavern to celebrate the life of Dave “Mullet” Martin [X-E2, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/40]
Manuel’s Tavern to celebrate the life of Dave “Mullet” Martin [X-E2, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.6, 1/35]
My family loves to get together for food.

Family Vacation with the Leary Clan at Emerald Isle Beach [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 65535, ƒ/14, 1/80]
I am reminded today also how some people around the world cook their food and how little they have to eat.

A lady showed us her kitchen in Nicaragua [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 4500, ƒ/4, 1/100]
I stopped with David and Tammy Woods where we bought some goat and lamb to eat while I was covering them in Burkina Faso in West Africa.

This is a road side restaurant on the way to BoBo from Ouagadougou. (Photo By: Stanley Leary) [NIKON D2X, AF Zoom 18-50mm f/2.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/400]
This young boy is running his restaurant roadside cafe in Tenkodogo, Burkina Faso where they serve food, petrol and drinks. (Photo by: Stanley Leary) [NIKON D2X, AF Zoom 18-50mm f/2.8G, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/50]
After making me some coffee the boy cooked some eggs for me as well to eat.

(Photo by: Stanley Leary) [NIKON D2X, AF Zoom 18-50mm f/2.8G, ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/90]
For the past few years I have enjoyed traveling with Jeff Raymond, Pat Davison and James Dockery where we have tasted the food in many different countries together.

James Dockery in San Benito, Nicaragua [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 57600, ƒ/4, 1/100]
Jeff Raymond, James Dockery and Pat Davison in Kosovo [X-E2, XF18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 1600, ƒ/4, 1/100] 
Togo, West Africa [NIKON D5, 35.0 mm f/1.4, ISO 1600, ƒ/1.4, 1/200]
I don’t always remember what the food was called, but I did enjoy it.

Shrimp and Grits – Charleston, SC [NIKON D5, Sigma24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 1400, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]
One thing Dorie, my wife, and I love to eat is Shrimp and Grits. We have had many varieties in Charleston, SC.

Charleston, SC [NIKON D5, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 2200, ƒ/8, 1/100]
In Lisbon, Portugal we waited a couple hours to eat at this restaurant where they serve the meat on a hot stone that you then cook your meat.

Lisbon Mission Storytelling Workshop [X-E2, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/80]
I wish you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving! Wishing you the gift of faith and the blessing of hope this thanksgiving day! We gather on this day to be thankful for what we have, for the family we love, the friends we cherish, and for the blessings that will come. Happy Thanksgiving!

The exotic can be next door

Umbrella Cockatoo [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 1000, ƒ/4, 1/200]
For these photos of the Umbrella Cockatoo I didn’t travel to Indonesia where they originated. I walked down the street to my neighbors house.

Peggy Hewitt and her Green-Winged Macaws Parrot [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 1250, ƒ/2.8, 1/200]
Peggy Hewitt, my neighbor, has 14 exotic birds she has rescued and is trying to find bird lovers to buy them from her.

Someone wanting to adopt a parrot needs to know they live a very long time as far as pets. The umbrella  cockatoo is a long-term commitment for an owner — this species can live up to 70 years with proper care and attention.

Green-winged macaw parrot [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 2500, ƒ/4, 1/200]
Often photographers think that they must go somewhere exotic to find the exotic.

Well my mentor Don Rutledge always said that the best stories are often in your backyard, or in my case next door.

Conures Parrott [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 1600, ƒ/3.6, 1/200]
I have lived at my house for the past nine years and this is the very first time I have been to Peggy’s house and seen her birds.

When we first moved to our home my daughter, Chelle, talked to her and got to see all of her birds.

When teaching photography one-on-one to a student at my house I was trying to come up with some things we could photograph around the neighborhood. We ran into her and asked when we were out photographing the fall colors.

Peggy Hewitt holding her Umbrella Cockatoo [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 800, ƒ/3.6, 1/200]
I think the one thing that keeps most photographers from ever getting better is the fear of talking to people.

Fall in our yard [X-E3, XF55-200mm ƒ/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, ISO 400, ƒ/4.5, 1/100]
It is much easier to walk outside and look for nature shots than it is to walk next door and say hello to your neighbor.

While nature photos can be stunning, I don’t think any of my photos from my yard were as exciting to look at until I talked to my neighbor. By taking the time to get to know my neighbor I discovered something much more exotic that I would expect to find when I travel the world, but it was just next door.

Have you met your neighbors and found out what their hobbies are or what they do for work? Maybe your best pictures have been in your neighborhood all this time and you were too scared to talk to people to find out.

This is Bull Dog, an Amazon parrot. He got his name after Peggy got him from his previous owner who died. They figured out that the guy must loved watching university of Georgia football, because when football games were on TV the bird yelled GO BULL DOGS!! [X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 1250, ƒ/2.8, 1/200]