Bays Mountain Hiking

Bays Mountain Park

I'm still on vacation as this hits the site and should be relaxing in the sun or something but here I am. I don't relax well, and I never stop working. Whether that's thinking about blog topics, looking for locations, editing, learning new techniques, or approaching new people. Being a small business owner is hard. Very hard, but I still love spending time doing thing's I love and doing that with people I care about so last weekend we decided to take the kids hiking. We love overnight trips, and the kids are showing interest in joining us so we are "training" for a longer hike. We loaded them up with light packs and headed to Bays Mountain Park.  Bays Mountain is special to us, as Natasha and I were married here but love to take the kids to see the animals and hike the trails surrounding the lake.  This is exactly what we did. I'm not writing much, but here are the images from our day.  All images were taken with my Fuji Xpro2 and my Xf16mm lens. #onelensandgo

Correction, the wifi ended up being so slow that I decided to wait until I was back home to upload this post. I just got in a few hours ago from second shooting a wedding with the brilliant Katy Sergent and uploading some pictures from the beach and remembered it was time to post this. So here it is.

This is not a perfect image, but this is the spot where Natasha and I were married so this means more to me than all the perfect lighting in the world.  Amazing how things have changed Sweetpea.

This is not a perfect image, but this is the spot where Natasha and I were married so this means more to me than all the perfect lighting in the world.  Amazing how things have changed Sweetpea.

In case you notice my tee shirt and new stickers, I thought I would share that I am currently an ambassador for AwakeThe Soul. Their moto is "Stay positive, be happy and live free", and they share passion for the outdoors and adventure as well. Go check them out. 

Weekend thoughts

coffee and blackberry

I'm writing this today, on a rainy dreary Sunday. I want to say it's a lazy day, relaxing with my family and enjoying the rhythm of the rain dancing on the roof of our home, as the droplets race one another to the bottom of the window glass, but I can not. Home from church, and to the laptop I retreat. I had a busy week of photo shoots, edit sessions, and endless errands for the family. I am happy to say that I have completed all session's from last weekend and delivered those galleries as a result of long hours editing away. As soon as I was delivering gallery after gallery, I was blessed to follow those up with session after session. I love being busy, and capturing the little moments that others will overlook, and that is easily forgotten if not for my being present. I'm currently sitting at Jaryn's school as he prepares for his band performance, and wouldn't you know it, laptop in tow. I'm writing this as other families walk in, socialize with one another, and enjoy the day together. The rest of my family is in NC celebrating Brynn's second birthday and I can't wait to see the photos from her party. As I was driving us here, I stopped for more coffee and a thought hit me. When do we stop? I'm very aware that from the outside looking in, it probably seems like being self-employed and working from home is a dream job, and in ways, you would be absolutely correct.  I am forever grateful that I'm available when my boy's need me. I'm grateful to my wife for providing a life that allows me to live my dream. I'm grateful to cook, pick up groceries, clean toilets, and take care of our fur baby Cinder. But what happens when we are not on location for your photo shoot? Some people simply believe we show up, take some images, deliver those images and sit back counting the riches. Well, you're wrong. 

What often goes unnoticed are the small details that go into creating your session and making it the experience it should be. We don't wake up, find a random camera and decide we need x amount of dollars to show up and be present. We don't run on the automatic setting's hoping for the best. There is time involved that is never mentioned in quotes and bids for jobs. I love what I do, and every day I'm reminded how blessed I am to do something I adore as often as I do. I'm blessed that 99% of my clients and friends always come back to me for every life event they would like memorialized. I'm grateful for that, and I'm grateful for getting to meet new people from referrals of my past clients. I am also grateful for my family who support me without question ( mostly lol ) and who see my value on the days I am far from seeing it myself.  I say all of this to remind anyone who is reading this, that there are so many things to consider when hiring a photographer, but there are also many, many things to take into consideration that you receive when hiring the correct person. You gain a relationship, a friendship, and contact. You get to work with someone who will sacrifice their sleep on your behalf. They will work in between sets to write a blog post to hopefully remind someone that you are getting more than just a final product. We run multiple social media accounts, and they are ever changing so we are also studying new algorithms on the constant. We host and update websites to try and get our vision to the masses, we spend hours editing those images we captured for you. We spend hours learning our equipment so there are no hiccups during your time with us. We have to constantly change, evolve, upgrade equipment ( this stuffs not cheap people ) all to probably compete with someone much much cheaper, and much less experienced because far too often value is associated with cost. I hope you consider these few of many points I've made when shopping next. Shop local, shop small business and reward the people who want to bring you the small victories day in and day out. Reward yourself with a truly unique experience that box stores cant provide and that you deserve. When anyone works with me, I strive to be present. My phones away unless needed, I'm the runner if things are forgotten, I'm the pep talk every step of the way, and I'm the guy with a throat tattoo that will move crowds when needed. I was pleasantly surprised to walk into one of my newest, but not forever clients store this past week, where she met me with applause. This wasn't needed but the simple fact that she was glad I was there and was excited to see her gallery in person. It's the small things like this as silly as it may sound that makes what I do truly special.  Long story short, THANK YOU to anyone I have ever worked with and for everyone that is to come. I'm not finished yet!!
I have 2 more sessions to finish from yesterday so they are coming soon, very soon. 

To all of my photographer friends: Should we ever shoot for free?

This topic is widely discussed in the photography community and although my ideas may not be earth shattering - I still feel they are worth sharing - so here we go.

As a photographer, we ultimately want to create something we are genuinely proud of. This reaches from our images captured, the business we create, to the brand we cultivate. We dream of working in bigger cities, larger platforms, or maybe just in a larger capacity, meaning booking more in our current market. While none of these are lacking their own unique qualities, the end goal is the same: to be successful. So I would challenge you to first describe what that is for you? What do you see when you think SUCCESS?  Write it down.

Once you have jotted your definition of that, please comment your notes below so we can all share in your goal. Then - how does shooting for free, or not, play into that success? It may not. It may not help book that corporate contract you're chasing or that wedding that you've been marketing to for weeks, but it may benefit in ways that are more meaningful in the big picture.

Ok, so shooting for free clearly won't put Benjamins in your savings account and there is zero guarantee that it will lead to those elusive Benjamins ever, but what if I told you that's ok?! Its ok if something you're truly dedicated to doesn't afford you the new equipment you're drooling over (on Amazon, B&H, or Adorama). Because what if the rewards are so much more than a tangible objective?

I know what you're thinking- "I need to make money to succeed as a business" and yes, that is true, but what if you dove into something you are truly passionate about and saw it to completion? The feeling of doing something for someone else is a wonderful experience to have. If anyone has ever bought your coffee in the drive thru before you got to the window, I bet you smiled. I bet that feeling was a pleasant feeling. We as photographers have the opportunity, responsibility even, to capture moments in time. Moments to record of joy, sadness, surprise, love, etc. No one makes us passionate about our craft, we are drawn to it for our own personal reasons. So in the end, you can do whatever you want.  You can donate your time and skill anyway you prefer. I love volunteering at our Church anytime they need another photographer to capture events, or just the typical Sunday morning service. I dream of taking a missions trip with my Church and doing just that. Capturing the need of others in a way that someone else would be lead to do more, be more than they are.  I also love having my camera with me when out in public and strive to capture moments and objects I see that catch my eye or that make up the world around us -- you never know when those images are going to change in meaning or value.  Imagine after 9/11 having been able to log into your computer and see images that you'd captured of the city in years past while you were just enjoying your world around you while walking the city...we, as photographers, have the privilege of snapping and archiving the wonderful things around us, but if you only wait to do so once you've been hired or told what to do, you miss this opportunity.

Now, am I talking about hired pro bono work here too?  Maybe, sometimes yes.  You don't have to simply give your time away to some event if you choose not to, however. There are lots of benefits to choosing to do free work for yourself (so much creative freedom!) -- You could also start a photo project that means something - a project that speaks directly to you. By doing so, you may challenge others to do the same, or share a story that helps someone who really needed to hear that particular story. One of my absolute favorite photographers is Ryan Muirhead. His work is hauntingly captivating, but his approach is as well. I'll never forget the video he posted where he is sitting in the floor with his subject and so engaged that when he realized he had the shot he couldn't pass up, he couldn't take his eyes off of her long enough to even reach for his camera and found himself blindly reaching for it. He wanted to capture exactly what he was seeing, that moment, that expression, that emotion and I want that almost-hypnotized-experience.

I'm challenging myself to create for myself as well as others. I challenge you to do the same. Life is far too fragile and far too fleeting to not make today different than yesterday was. Maybe for yourself, your clients, or someone that stumbles upon your work some day.

Working for free may pay more than we are capable of calculating when we open our eyes to the possibilities of it. 

Im Back!

Well its been a long time since writing here and that's for a few reasons. I had taken a new chance and changing my business platform and Ill just say that, things did not work out. I'm not wasting any more time on said project but more importantly, I'm not wasting time on the "what if's ". I have hit the Reset button and bigger and better things are going to happen, because I'm not capable of settling for anything else. I am making life changes and putting my Faith and Family first and then and only then can I succeed in the matters that mean the most. 

If I were world known and rich beyond measure, but didn't have my family and my Faith, it would all be for not. I'm making steps to trust the Lords plan for my life and my business and I am extremely blessed and excited by this decision. 

I am booking for 2018 now and would love to meet new people and create something truly meaningful and put my work in new venues. This year I print more, I shoot more, but I will also laugh more, pray more and be more present in this life. I have started bullet journaling to help keep me on the path and help get the negativity out of my life.  I will be attending more seminars, classes and looking for a business mentor. Someone I respect and can trust. I'm also, for maybe the first time truly, working on myself. I'm currently listening to a wonderful book, suggested by my lovely wife, called " The Miracle Morning" by Hal Elrod. So far its incredible and I highly recommend it. I'm also go to try and help the industry more. Maybe teach classes or start a photo walk for children. Lots to work on and its time to get to it.. if you find yourself reading this  I hope you can remember, times get tough, things are not always the way we want them to be, but we are meant for so much more. Dust yourself off, chin up, and smile.. smile in defeat but count the lessons in it, smile at a stranger it may change their day, and smile because we have great things to accomplish in this wonderful thing called LIFE!

#motivational #jgp #steppingoutinfaith