Category Archives Guest Blogger

I believe there's opportunity for everyone to have commercial success as a photographer in today's market. This as long as they have a unique and honest perspectiveâ¦

Hi!

I'm excited to be writing for Scott Kelby and the Guest blog Wednesday!

I'm also excited about the current state of photography!

Really excited!

Daily I get questions through e-mail and social media. They span a wide range but the BIG question I get asked, among practical advice on gear, computers and offers of coffee and beer is: "How do I MAKE it as a photographer?"

"How do I break into advertising photography and how do you get the jobs that you do?"

To be honest, I asked myself the same question for years as I attempted to break into the world of advertisingâ¦

If you are at a point where you have absorbed tons of photographic knowledge through school or online learning, know photo is your passion and you want to make this your career, it's not unusual to ask yourself…

Now what?

How does one get hired to do this thing you are so crazy passionate about??

There's a lot of writing in social media and the blogosphere about how hard and competitive it is to succeed as a full-time photographer. So I thought I'd use this time to share some optimism and give a different perspective about the things that excite me about the opportunities in photography today.

What I believe is this; there are opportunities for everyone to have commercial success as a photographer in today's market.

This as long as they have a unique and honest perspectiveâ¦

Before I get into this, I want to give you a brief background on what I do and share some signature images of mine that represents who I am as a photographer.

In short I'm a Norwegian photographer who, since 1995, been residing in the US.

I got started in photography by being curious…

There were a few friends that had cameras and I joined them in a darkroom course while in the National Defense in Norway.

At the time I skied a lot and started taking pictures of my friends floating through powder and flying off cliffs. Out of these adventures on the ski slopes came my first published pictures and marked the start of me as a photographer.

Later, at 22, when faced with the crossroads of "What do I do with my life?" I decided to study photography. Through great advice and some random encounters I ended up in San Francisco at the Academy of Art University where I studied photography for 4 years, earning a BFA.

From there, I was a camera assistant for almost 3 years before venturing out on my own, starting my photography businessâ¦

Going slow in the beginning, I steadily matured in my style and integrity as a photographer and now consistently shoot for the most familiar companies and brands in the world.

So why am I excited about this market that seems to get tougher by the minute?

Clients are paying less and less and there's more and more photographers being educated from colleges and online training programs.

How can I be really excited about this?

To be honest it's mostly taking a different perspective.

What if we view this from the top rather than the bottom?

If we look at the shallow end of the photography market there are too many photographers that are all underbidding each other and no one seems to be making a good living.

The view from the top is very different:

We are now living in the most visual culture ever!

The collective level and sophistication of photography is increasing every day and there's quite obviously an increasing place for images in our lives. As influencers and tastemakers we as photographers now have something that's increasingly valuable and do believe we have a great future.

There truly is an excitement about pictures and photography today that's beyond anything before us, and it's growing. Every day we upload around 55 million images to Instagram.

Facebook? We add about 350 million new photos a day and as many as 250 billion images since it's inception. In the US we now spend 3.2 hours on social media every day. Most of this time is looking at pictures! We are absorbing visual content like never before.

In some ways it's hard to even comprehend. When I came to the US to study photography almost 20 years ago the discussions in class were about photography's burgeoning acceptance as fine art and if cropping your images in the darkroom was ethically ok.

Today photography is not only accepted but one of the most popular forms of art and cropping?? That discussion is completely dead and only serves as dating my photographic career!

One can argue that all these images we are bombarded with daily are diluting the value of photography, but what if you create something that truly stands out among all these images? What if you create something unique, which resonates with a fast expanding audience and manages to stand out from all the other images out there?

What if you have an image that makes someone pause, think and feel, now that is just amazing!

We then have something that is unbelievably valuable to anyone trying to market a product or serviceâ¦

As our attention span is getting shorter this capability is getting more and more valuable!!

The ones that can produce images that stand out in this screaming match for attention has one bright future as a photographer!

The obvious question is: So how do we create images that stand out?

How do we create something unique?

We all have access to the same cameras and the same software, so its sure not the gear you have.

The only way to be unique is to use these tools in a way differently than the other photographers out there.

We have all heard this before. What I'd like to offer though is a super speed highway to get there. A fast track to finding that uniqueness that reflects your own visual DNA.

To me, the only way to find this uniqueness is to look at oneself. Find what you are drawn to, what visually turns you on and craft images from the depth of yourself.

Sounds corny? Sounds impossible to access?

It's NOT!

And here's how: You find your photographic DNA.

This can be years of self-examination, or spending the infamous 10,000 hours popularized by Malcolm Gladwell.

There's a faster way though and that's to look at the work of other photographers you truly admire.

This is super highway to really understand your own sensibilities and vision to find what innately inspires you.

Pick a hundred images and ask yourself over and over WHY and WHAT about these pictures attract you to them.

Make a list and you will get an understanding of your innate visual language.  These descriptors you have of why you like these100 pictures is the defining descriptors of your own photographic DNAâ¦

In these descriptors you will see what light quality you like, what color palette and subject matter and all the other elements that you are drawn to.

Your uniqueness is in thisâ¦

So next time you take pictures you will have a clear sense of direction. You now know you like a certain type of place with a certain type of light with a certain type person in there, doing a certain type of pose. It's all in there!

I have, together with fotofagskolen in Norway created the below to help get you started in finding these Visual and emotional descriptors.

In doing this exercise you should have should have a great visual awareness of what you like and long for in your images. It's then just to dive in and create.

Don't feel inspired? Just look at your list of words. The things that inspire you should all be right there!

After doing this exercise there's no need to get into a discussion of natural light or 1 light or 5 light approaches. You just use the tools needed to get to the light quality you know resonates with who you areâ¦

So after finding that unique photographic footprint then what's next?

It's getting these unique pictures in front of the Photo editors, Art buyers and Art directors.

Marketing is an art in itself and I will save this for another guest blog.

So to sum this up I'd say: Don't get engaged in the "photography is dead and we can't make any money and people work for free conversation." Create work that's personal and meaningful to you that reflect the visual things you are drawn to and you will find your worth in your pictures. Photo editors and agencies will recognize this and you will be hired to photograph the things you love and have experiences in the wake of taking pictures few other professions will allow.

Like my Venture Capital friend keep telling me: "Erik, you have the best income to lifestyle ratio of anyone I know".

And I'm not saying this to brag, but to inspire.

Happy picture taking!!

Erik

To learn about the camera equipment that I use, you can click right here.

If you want to learn about my process, here’s a link for that.

You can see more of Erik’s work at ErikAlmas.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and YouTube.

Hey everyone – RC here. If you have spent any time on this blog or at KelbyOne, you have more often than not come across of Joe McNally.  With over 30 years in the business, he is one of the most sought after photographers out there working today.  He’s shot for Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, LIFE and National Geographic – winning a dizzying amount of awards in over 60 countries.

But the best honor for him yet happens this October 3 – November 23 2014 at the Monroe Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He will have his first solo show!  I figured it would be neat to share why Joe’s one of my photographic idols – and why I cannot wait to make the trek to New Mexico for opening day. (Click on this link for more details on this)

The Tenacity of Being a Photographer

(photo credit - Christopher Morris - VII Agency)

I’ve been a fan of Joe’s work for a long time – long considering him one of my photographic idols. His ability to work with flash has always been second to his tenacity for wanting to get an interesting shot. Here he’s working on a rooftop in Russia photographing a ballerina. Why? Because that’s where the picture was.

I’ve always thought of Joe as one part Ernest Hemingway, one part Hannibal Smith from The A-Team.  When he has an idea – it would seem that there is not much that will get in the way of him getting it. Just yesterday, I saw a location here in St. Lucia (we’re teaching a workshop out here) and thought to myself “Man, this one cave/vine area would be a great location to make a picture. But man, that looks like a bit of a climb. I wonder how dangerous that climb is….”

Telling Joe about the location? “Yeah, I made this picture up there a couple of years ago when I was…”

The next time I get there, you’ll be sure that I won’t hesitate climbing to that location to make a shot. Because that’s where the picture is.

The Storyteller in the Photographer

The quest to tell a story has brought him around the world. This is a picture of a girl in Mumbai in 1999.

This picture was a part of a series he did called “The Panorama of War.” That series won him the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Journalistic Impact. Eisenstadt. A giant in the photographic world.

I often look back at my own work and think about how much excess I throw into a picture to try to make a point. To try to help the caption that I have under the picture. I want the effects that I place in the file to help move the reader to the conclusion I want them to see.

I’ll often look back at pictures like this and get inspired to find a story. Forget about the effects and the software. Just walk around and find one picture that doesn’t need a single caption. I’m completely OK with the fact that I am not there yet. This isn’t a race. I just want to make sure that I am on the right track. In this – I see Joe as a beacon.

The Dreamer in the Photographer

Imagine going into a shoot with Michelle Pfeifer. Most people would be freaking out about having to make a picture with an actress of that stature.

Joe’s response? Oh lets make a custom jewelry case, and make a picture with the Hope Diamond.

As a photographer you don’t really need an actress or the Hope Diamond. But – how many pictures have you had in your own head that you’ve never really given yourself permission to create?  How many ideas stay stuck in your head – a victim of “Oh that will never work.”  I think that one of the biggest challenges that one can have as a photographer is to know that sometimes you have to shift from capturing whats in front of you to realizing a concept. I am horrible at that. I relegate my creative experience to making something cool of a situation in front of me. I get extremely timid, however, telling people “Oh… I have this idea in my head… Let me tell you what it is.”  In that, I feel like I don’t move myself along. I should. But I don’t. But looking at Joe’s work makes me want to. In that, he’s my inspiration.

The Monroe Gallery

When it comes to historically important pictures in Photojournalism – you cannot beat The Monroe Gallery in Santa Fe. The gallery features the work of photographers like Alfred Eisenstadt, Margaret Bourke White, Carl Mydans, Arnold Newman, Neil Leifer and many others.

Walking into this place feels like you’re walking into a hallowed hall.  As a photographer, I think it’s so important for you to look back into these founts for inspiration and bearing.   To be surrounded by the work of someone we all admire, is a big call for celebration – and we are all so happy for him because of it.

Hopefully I will see you guys there on opening day!!

(Big thanks to Joe for letting me use your pictures)

Why I'm a Storyteller

It all began in a diner in Northern California years ago and the ending hasn't been written yet. It's a journey that has changed our lives, and we want to take you along because it might just change yours. With mastery of f/stop and shutter speed, photography becomes more difficult, challenging us to grow into storytellers and personally connecting us with our subjects through our viewfinders. Photography has this marvelous side benefit that, with the more time we spend with it, the more it becomes a vehicle for change. It affects change in us as well as in others with whom we share and are touched by our images.

It was a gorgeous morning. The ground fog had barely formed as the sun began its climb in the sky. Crews were already busy about the field as the hangar doors slowly opened, the new day's sun streaking in, bringing light to all the commotion inside. As one would suspect, it was a beehive of activity as preparations were well underway. There I was with a mop in hand drying floors caused by the massive dawn downpour. Oh, the cameras were in hand, but at this moment simply not in use. Then the banner went up, "Honoring the past, inspiring the future!"

Undoubtedly you've heard, "A picture is worth a thousand words." When telling photographically the story of the Greatest Generation and those working to honor their contributions, you need all those thousands of words and then some in every one of your photos to tell their story. That's what this weekend was all about, honoring the veterans of the 345th Bombardment Group "Air Apaches" and 352nd Fighter Group "Blue Nose Bastards," WWII aviators who went to war as boys to battle for the cause of freedom. They came back successful to build a country.

The host for this reunion was the Texas Flying Legends Museum. Flying a collection of WWII warbirds flown by some of the best pilots in the business, their mission is honoring the past while preserving and sharing that history to inspire the future. We were there to record and tell this story, sharing it with you, and others across the globe. This is the true calling of photography, what gives it its power to affect change and fill hearts.

On Sept 12th, I’ll join Scott Kelby to host the world premiere of our film, Warbirds and the Men who Flew Them. KelbyOne in conjunction with the Texas Flying Legends Museum takes you behind the scenes and puts you literally in the pilot's seat in telling this ongoing story. The photographic process, what I go through to make the images to tell the story is very much present, while The Film is about so much more. If you had to sum it all up, you could with one word: passion. The passion those boys had for their country when they went to war. The passion of today's pilots to honor those men when flying their aircraft. And my passion to be faithful to all of them.

We went about telling this gigantic story through air to air photography. This is just the culmination of years and years of hard work to get to this point. Getting to where we're in the air with some of the most gorgeous WWII aircraft flying today took first a whole bunch of planning. Knowing your subject is so important in telling its story. In this case, we went right to the source, the vets who lived the story we're telling in our photos. It was a great honor to have heroes like Dick Cole, Bud Anderson, Charles McGee and many more telling us their personal stories in interviews with them. Then with the help of the pilots of the Texas Flying Legends Museum, flying the photo missions we brought this history alive for our cameras today.

The Film that was produced from this gathering is the first of its kind. With the information gathered and the flying talent present, we set out with the goal to visually create and photograph the aerial battles of WWII. Recreating the conflicts of the Pacific and Aleutian Islands was no easy challenge. Pulling it off safely and photographically took much more than a single camera, but that's where it all begins.

Every part of this process you can do and accomplish as well. And I'm not talking just aviation photography, but any personal project you are impassioned to photograph and share. Any story that has touched you that you want to touch others with can be fulfilled when you're behind the camera.

The story is bigger than this blog, bigger than the images that are part of this blog. That's why we produced The Film. The film crew plane photographing the plane I'm in photographing a B-25 being attacked by a Japanese Zero being flamed by a P-40 Warhawk, phew! This is the action you'll see and how we got to make that happen. Years in the making, a year in editing, Warbirds and the Men who Flew Them is the chronicle of my personal project that is still ongoing. And it's a passion I want to share with you as a challenge to you and your photography.

Join us on Sept 12th as we tell the story of the Greatest Generation and those keeping their contributions to our country alive today with our cameras. And when you see a veteran, tell them thanks for their service!

You can see more of Moose’s work at MoosePeterson.com and WarbirdImages.com, and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

For years now, I’ve always preached the importance and value of personal projects or personal work. The million dollar question that I always get asked is any variation of “How do I get work? How do I get to where you are? How do I make a living as a photographer?”

Well, the best answer is personal work. The path to nearly every success story with famous photographers is personal work… some project that they started on their own that got discovered by an art director, then another, and so on.

See, it’s not enough anymore to just take nice photos. Nearly anyone these days can learn how to take good a nice photo. But it’s rare that you see that combined with a unique passion project (unique being the key word there).

All that being said, I try to walk the talk and do my own personal projects. I’ve done projects in Haiti, Africa and in the states as well. My latest is a project called PortraitQA and the premise is simple. Photograph someone and have them ask a question that the next subject answers. Then they ask a question that the next person answers and on and on and on. It’s an endless cultural dialogue of strangers. Sometimes the subjects know each other but it’s mostly stranger to stranger.

Here are some favorites thus far:


Bradley Spitzer – 33 – Art Director/Photographer
My question to Bradley:
What do you fear?
Bradley's answer: I fear I will be alone for the rest of my life, as my wife and I will soon be divorced. I worry that the stain of a failed marriage negates the possibility of having a healthy, loving relationship in the future. And even beyond those, I fear that I won’t learn from my mistakes and bad decisions.
Bradley's question for the next subject: What do you regret?


Andres Martinez - @ondrace – 28 – Photographer
Answer: What do I regret? Well, a lot. One of my biggest regrets is letting fear run so much of my life. When I think back on how many times I didn't seize a moment or an opportunity that’s presented itself due to being fearful of failure or a less than comfortable outcome, my heart breaks a little bit. What could simply saying “yes” instead of a hesitant “maybe…” have done for me so many times before? What makes taking that first small step so difficult sometimes? Every situation that’s be tough has ultimately made me stronger. Why can’t I learn that lesson? So here’s to taking some risks, making some mistakes and being better.


Reese Cowart - 12 - 6th Grader (I had Reese hold up her IPhone with the flashlight on. I had no idea the lens flare would do this.)
Previous question: With technology expanding at such a rapid rate, how do you see yourself living 25 years from now?
Reese’s answer: I see myself living in the future with flying cars! In the future I hope that I will be able to carry myself around on Aerial Silks! When I am 37 I will be able to have a robot to do all chores for me!
Reese’s question for the next subject: I lost my Daddy this year. How do you deal with the loss of a loved one?


Jason Brown - @jasonbrown0 – 34 – CEO of Aroluxe Marketing
Jason’s answer: Reese, first off I’m very sorry for your loss. Second, I know how you feel. I lost my dad 35 days ago today in a freak accident, and I miss him so much. “How do you deal with the loss of a loved one?” For me, my answer has been a single word: “God.” I’m extremely weak in a lot of areas, including understanding what’s best for the world. So I chose to do it with God, because without God death is the end, but with God death is the beginning of something that God tells me is glorious for my dad. Without God, a burial is a permanent rest below, but with God a burial is temporary until my dad is raised up again. Without God, I don’t get to see my dad again, but with God, I get to see and hug and talk and kiss him again one day – so I chose with God. I wasn’t built to “deal” with death or loss, so God does it for me. He wraps up the confusion, the emptiness, and the heartache in perfect wisdom, love, and understanding and he hands it to me in every situation – when I’m strong and want to do everything that I think my dad would want me to accomplish and when I’m alone in my car, and a song that reminds me of him comes on and I break down and cry, God gives me exactly what I need at that moment. That doesn’t mean that it’s easier or hurts any less, it just means that I’m not alone and I know that I don’t have to deal with the “loss”, because it’s not a loss, it’s just a temporary separation.


Gaylon Wilcox – 62 – Retired Construction Worker
Previous question: They say smell is the sense that is tied most to memory. What is your top memory associated with your favorite smell?
Gaylons answer: My favorite smell and best memories was when we poured Italian dressing over the brisket and it would drip down onto the charcoal below. We used to enter cooking contests and we would cook everything that could crawl… alligator, raccoon, you name it. We had such a blast.


Lenisa Ann Careaga – @misslenisalove – 26 – Dance instructor, Nutritionist, Nanny, College student
Previous question: What to do you want to do? Get married? Stay single? Go into the army? You’ve got the rest of your life ahead of you.
Lenisa’s Answer: My favorite quote is, "Dance as if nobody's watching, Love like you've never been hurt, Sing like nobody's listening, Live like its heaven on earth." My dream is to be able to inspire women from around the world that have been through domestic violence. I plan to use nutrition and art therapy to help them heal from their harsh experiences. Exercise and eating healthy are powerful tools that ease the pain created from their emotional struggles. Art therapy, such as painting, dancing, journaling, etc⦠build confidence, compliments the healing process, and helps women explore who they are. I would love to get married and have children in the future but I definitely want to never lose sight my dream, while helping spread self-love to other people.


Peter Court – @peterrcourt – 22 – Leading Initiatives for Q Ideas
Previous question: What's the happiest part of your life right now?
Peter's answer: Great question. It would have to be the people in my life. I recently relocated from New York City to Nashville just three weeks ago, huge change in basically every aspect of my life. The friendships and relationships I have already established here in a few short weeks have encouraged me like nothing else. Moving and leaving “comfortable" is always tough, but necessary for any type of growth to occur.


Fairlight Hubbard – @fairlight – 36 – Photographer/director
Previous question: If you were offered a million dollars, would you skip the next year of life? Why or why not?
Fairlight's answer: The funny thing is, I just spent the last 3 months taking time away from my "life," or at least the life I have built thus far. In that time, I revisited the life of my childhood living off grid, I remembered how I love to play in creeks⦠forgot why looking in the mirror seemed important⦠I lost touch with most everyone⦠but I got in touch with me. I remembered what I was made of⦠who I am. Although I don't think money should be a catalyst for meaningful decisions, if a windfall allows one to break free from a routine that is no longer serving them, it is a gift that should not be passed over. Perhaps skipping life is when we don't take this time…

You can follow this project on Instagram, OKDOTHIS, and Facebook, and see more of Jeremy’s work at JeremyCowart.com. You can also catch him live in person at Photoshop World in Las Vegas next week!


Photos by Peter Hurley

Howdy folks! I hope you're having a great summer! Here in NYC I feel like we've had a bit more rain than in the past, but all in all it's been a very pleasant season, albeit a fast one! I feel like we were just celebrating Memorial Day, and now I'm suddenly busy preparing for Photoshop World in just a few weeks! Yikes! If you come see me speak, I promise to fill your head with loads of information about OCF (Off Camera Flash) geekiness, but today I'm going to talk to you about that moving target we call the work/life balance. So if you're here today to learn about the difference between an f/stop, and the bus stop you should move directly to this class. ;-)

â¦.you're still here?! GREAT! Let's talk about that work/life balance. Come in a little closer, I'm going to let you in on a secretâ¦closer, closer. Sorry kids, whomever told you can have a wonderful life filled with happy, joyous days with your family AND run a fruitful, cash $$ money business while you skip and run into the distance riding a unicorn over the rainbow is either a lunatic or has just figured out the right pharmaceutical medley to keep them happy while they're most likely screaming on the inside.

So why go on this rant you ask? Why am I trying to crush your mellow? In the words of Lynn Cartia, "I'd like to take this moment to bring it WAAY down."

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Jason Groupp, and I'm the Director of Education and Membership for WPPI/Rangefinder and PhotoPlus Expo/PDN (Oct 29 – Nov 1).  I am also a photographer of 25 plus years, mainly weddings with a smattering of commercial and editorial work over the years.  Going from my studio every day to an office has been one of the weirdest, most jarring experiences of my life and has forced me to make some lifestyle changes, while at the same time trying to manage the artist ego inside who needs to stay creative, andâ¦oh yeah, I have a beautiful wife, and two nutty children ages 5 and 7. Managing three different lives at the same time, clocking nearly 55,000 miles on United this year, trying to be the best Dad in the world AND desperately trying to find the energy to be creative has proven to be a phenomenal challenge. Did I mention that I like to workout at least 4 days a week?

There's a scene in Goodfellas where Ray Liotta is trying to manage all these errands, and still put on a face that he's in complete control. He keeps complaining about this helicopter flying above him and this weird feeling like something is going to go wrong, and it does. Of course he's crazed out on drugs, and that's part of the problem, but at a certain point his work/life balance comes crashing down to a halt in epic proportions. He failed.

Okay, so I'm hoping most of you don't have DEA agents flying over you watching your every move, but I'm sure most of you have felt like Ray (minus the drugs) at some point in your lives. We all have that moment when we think we can outsmart reality, and it all comes abrupt stop, and realize it's time to change.

Now don't beat yourself up! I'm here to tell you it's okay. Wait, if I did I would then be that crazy person who tells you can have it all. You can't. But that's OK. I'm here to tell you it's OK. ;-)

This past weekend I had one of those moments. My wife and I do a great job of  "dividing and conquering" as we like to call it. This includes general errands, dropping/picking up kids, play dates and stuff like that. A typical weekend includes early morning runs, followed by trips to the dry cleaner, supermarket, and some kind of kid-friendly activity to finish the day off. However, this past weekend there was quite a few more adult things that needed to be done, including calling several contractors, replacing tires on both cars, finding a new mechanic, and coordinating multiple birthday parties drop-offs, etc.  As we sat eating our breakfasts  my daughter says, "OMG, there's a cat stuck in our tree." She's got a great imagination, so we laughed, but then she repeated, "No really, there's a cat stuck in the tree!"

With that one sentence, I knew at an instance, this would be the thing that completely derailed our weekend. The next several hours included phone calls to the police, animal control, fire department, and of course visits from our neighbors, all offering advice that was completely unhelpful. I looked at my wife and said that we don't have time for a cat stuck in the tree! "We have all of these errands to run, plus I have to write an article (this one!) for Kelby, plus I was going to edit some images later." She smiled at me and said "Yes, but there's a cat stuck in the tree."

At that moment I realized the stress of trying to get it all in wasn't going to happen, my plan had failed, and that was okay.

Here's ten things I do to help keep my sanity, none of them get me to achieve a work/life balance, but helps maintain a large enough bucket to keep the water out of our sinking ship.

1 - Recognize the warning signs. At some point you know you can't get it all done, and you have to let it go.

2 - You can't be good at everything all the time, but you can be good at what you are doing right now. Focus! Focus is the key.

3 - The "Play like a champion today" Notre Dame football motto can apply to everything you do. Prioritize, and conquer. When you're food shopping, do that, "I'm shopping like a champion today," "I'm buying tires for my car like a champion today."

4 - Be present for your family. This is the hardest one for me. You can still drag your kids around to do the errands, but make the time to look into your kids' eyes and listen. Too often I find myself on a business trip missing my family feeling guilty about not spending enough quality time with them. The cat stuck in the tree really made me think about how our lives need to be more balanced.

5 - Call in sick once in a while! Do it!

6 - Throw something out! Or donate it to someone who wants it. Clearing out clutter is awesome.

7 - Call your Mom. Well that doesn't achieve a work/life balance, but she wants to hear from you.

8 - Kill your television. There's nothing good to watch on it, and you are wasting too much time looking at it.

9 - Go read a book. It will keep you sane, and it will keep your brain alive.

10 - Make some plans to do something fun. John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you're making plans." GO MAKE SOME!

I'm not sure if this was a helpful article, but it was cathartic for me to write. Now and again there comes a time in your life when you get a cat stuck in the tree and I'm here to tell you it's OK. You are not going to find the balance; all you can do is manage the fallout. Trick is to manage it like a champion. It's OK!

You can see more of Jason’s work at JasonGroupp.com, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, and catch him live at Photoshop World Las Vegas!


This picture is a reminder of what it is all about… the joy of the moment, not the size of the fish!

What do you do when your creative tank is empty? How do you recharge? Most of us tend to try to be fiercely independent and when we can’t seem to find the motivation, we think working harder and isolating ourselves is the answer. I think the opposite is true… getting around other folks and taking a moment to breathe is often the best way to get past the hump or mountain of stagnation. Let me show you what I mean.

My job is to be creative and the good news is that I am a pretty creative guy. However, each day that I sit down in front of my computer I struggle to be creative… again. It is the again part that is tough. I can come up with something wild and wacky at the drop of a hat… but what do I do when there is another hat waiting to fall each and every day?  You have the same problem… no matter what your job is, it is hard to keep things fresh and alive each day. So we tend to find ruts and habits that keep us going and work fairly well and may even turn into a style which other folks think is great. But, the danger is that our hearts and our passions get sacrificed for the sake of production. Most days I just want to do a good enough job to make other folks happy and I don’t try to think about whether my heart is fully engaged.

The Affliction:

To stick with the fishing metaphor…I have learned to fish, but I have gotten more focused on how many fish and how big rather than the joy of fishing. We as a people tend start out with a cane pole and a piece of Wonderbread and we giggle with excitement even if we just get a nibble and don’t catch a thing. Then as we get older and wiser we move our way up to a hand-crafted bamboo/graphite/titanium thunder-rod and bionic super lures that costs more than our car and we get mad when we only catch 12 fish for the day.

Photography is the same way… Think about the excitement we had when we got our first camera! Yet, in no time at all we start looking for the next lens or the next body and we get bored and complacent with our shooting. We become stressed out about the very activity that we started because it brought us such joy. Why? We have this internal (and external) push to get better… to do it faster… to achieve more each day, and then do it again tomorrow.

The Antidote:

The best antidote for this affliction is to get around someone who has still got the original passion and hang out with them. That is why I love workshops and I feel I need to include them in my yearly schedule. I need to get around folks that are vibrating with joy as they start to learn so that their enthusiasm wakes me up and stirs my soul once again for Photography. I get to relive the first love I had for the art and my routine gets interrupted and I have new thoughts and feelings and I am running around shooting just like the new photographer.

Bill Fortney and His Light Workshop crew Nashville 2014

I was fortunate enough to be invited by Bill Fortney to come take part in his workshop in Nashville. If you don’t know who Bill is you should, because he is one of the best folks you will ever meet… and he can handle a camera pretty well too. The timing was perfect since I had met another gentleman who was getting infected with the photography bug named Scotty Smith. Now selfishly I introduced these two guys to each other because I wanted to see if rainbows would spontaneously erupt since both of them are about the two nicest guys you can know. Now add to this mix a plethora of sweaters of other folks that all love photography and you can forget about being luke-warm or bored about taking pictures. Just getting to spend time with these folks was wonderful… even spending time with Snake! Yep… that was for you! :D

Scotty working the tripod looking for heavenly light

You see passion is contagious, just like laughter and yawning. I dare you to watch that video with the Quintuplets laughing and not at least smile! The same thing applies to your heart and creativity. If you are in a rut, get around folks who aren’t. The people who are passionate are usually the ones learning, so learn something new… try a new technique, try a new setting… become a student again. Shameless plug coming… go watch a new class over at KelbyOne.com and then don’t just sit there, go try to replicate it and really learn it. Sign up for a workshop and go experience something new and learn from folks who love to teach and inspire. I went to Bill’s workshop to help teach about Photoshop and hang out… but I ended up getting infected by the passion of folks who are hungry to learn. So I started shooting more and being less critical… I started having fun with my camera instead of shooting to produce. I started playing again and it felt good.

Ricky giving me Rawr! and then Blue Steel

Speaking of playing… part of the workshop was spending time with Ricky Skaggs and getting to shoot his concert. Now I must confess, I know of Ricky, but I couldn’t tell you a lot about the man… as a matter of fact as I walked into the room, I couldn’t have pointed him out with a high degree of certainty. (Sorry Ricky! :D) But, getting to spend time with him was a great treat, not because of his fame, but because of his heart. The man is humble, funny, caring and passionate about shooting. There is a joy that just seems to leak out of him. And then, we got to watch him play… and that man can make some sweet music. It hit me while we were watching him perform, that his joy had infected his music and made it better and richer, and that I should let that be the goal of my photography. Joy/passion should trigger my shutter.

"American Pickers" Nashville store was a blast

Now by this time in case you couldn’t tell, I was getting philosophical and I thought about how it was the people at the workshop that made it so good. It was the relationships even more than the opportunities to shoot some neat locales that made the biggest impression on me. You may not believe this if you know me, but I can be pretty introverted, especially when I get stressed and under deadline. But, I think I have figured out that the more stressed I get, or the more in a rut I get, the more I need to be around people that stir my heart. My family first and then like minded folks who are hungry to learn.

hitting the bottles with Bill
Obligatory guitar for Scott :D
"Mr. Telephone man" or "Operator" or "You can ring my Bell"
Proud Mary

So then after being inspired by the wonderful workshop I flew immediately out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to suffer vacation. Now my usual routine for vacation is to do as little as possible, and make my kids bring me food and do my bidding while I lay on the couch telling them that I am fixin’ to go shoot some pictures. :D Only slightly kidding. This time I actually went out the very first night because of the excitement that had been stirred up back in Nashville. While out at the Mormon Row area I ran into a herd of buffalo and a couple of neat fellow photographers. One guy in particular was Chris Fritsche who is a KelbyOne member who got excited to meet one of the Photoshop guys. I mean who wouldn’t? He started talking to me about all the classes he had watched and how he came out to work on his shooting. His enthusiasm was infectious.

Lightpainting with Chris and the gang

So a couple of nights later I called him up and met him back at the barns to do some light painting ala Dave Black’s class. He brought one of his daughters to help and I brought the twins who helped and nearly killed me, and we had a great time playing in the moonlight where the buffalo roam.

And you know what… I didn’t really care about how my pictures turned out… I was just like the kid with a cane pole and some Wonderbread… just excited to get a nibble.

These guys stir my heart daily... (Ladies insert aaaawwwww! here. :D)

ps. Most of the images were processed playing around with Macphun’s new Tonality Pro… good stuff.

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