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Photo by Branden Harvey

When There’s More Than Photography
In 2005, I made the cold-turkey switch from graphic designer to photographer. I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t even know what an f-stop was. But I was all-in and had found my identity.

I was off to the races. Within three months, I landed a photography agent in LA. Within four months I was meeting with the biggest TV and movie studios in Hollywood. And within six months I was hanging out on set, photographing the likes of Sting and TV shows like FOX’s Prison Break.

The past 10 years has been a continued blur of album cover shoots, editorial shoots, a few weddings, a couple three month tours (one with Britney Spears), six-figure advertising shoots, three-figure shoots for friends and everything in between. I even became a photo industry leader. I’ve spoken at every major photography conference. I became a KelbyOne instructor. And I’ve built a good following among photographers over the years.

I had found my identity as a “photographer” and was convinced that would forever be my thing.

But something funny happened along the way.

I had other ideas. Ideas for things that didn’t even involve photography. Books, apps, TV shows, education ideas, speaking ideas, invention ideas, the list goes on and on.

What I realized was that if I’m creative as a photographer, then I’m creative period.

And so are you.

We tend to latch on to one identity don’t we? “He’s a photographer.” Or, “She’s a graphic designer.”

But what if we can still be anything we want? I’m almost 40 years old and I’m dreaming bigger and harder than ever.

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Four years ago, I had a dream to build a hotel. What?? Yeah. That was my thought too. It just came out of nowhere and it’s haunted me for the last four years. “But I thought I was just a photographer?”

What I ultimately realized was that photography was a bit self-serving for me. I’m only building my name, my brand and making myself “famous.” Not that there’s anything wrong with becoming famous as a photographer (as far as fame within photography goes). But what if I could build something that was bigger than myself?

I don’t want to be an old man, bragging to my kids that I once photographed the Kardashians. I want to be an old man, telling my kids about the bold risks I took… That I stared fear in the face and overcame it time and time again. I want to tell them about all the times I failed. About all the shoots that sucked. About the ambitious crowd-funding campaign that failed and how we immediately stood back up and tried again. I want them to learn more from my attempts at success more than the success itself, just as I have.

What are you learning as a photographer today?
What have you failed at?
What other dreams are you pursuing?
What have you been too afraid to try?

I love thinking about these things. I simply refer to it as curiosity. I’m always curious. I love walking into the dark and exploring the unknown.

I’ve never been more in the dark than I am right now, pursuing this dream to build a hotel. I mean, I’m in meetings and conference calls right now with people who are using words that I don’t even understand! I’ve never been stretched more than right now, and I’m loving every minute of it.

Are you growing right now? Stretching yourself?

The biggest thing I learned two years ago when I lost my brother is just how short life is.

Good grief it’s short.

Pursue your curiosity today. Those little whispers of ideas you have? Those are your most valuable assets. Listen. Document them. Pursue them. That’s all I’m doing these days.

And while you’re at it, help me navigate the dark today. I can’t do this on my own.

We need your help reaching our “Step 2 Goal” on our Kickstarter campaign for The Purpose Hotel. Here’s the full vision for the hotel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVyjXBV4VhM

Let’s do something bigger than ourselves.

P.S. If you want to check out my full life story, see below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jC-rpAkfE2I

Keep up with Jeremy and The Purpose Hotel at ThePurposeHotel.com and JeremyCowart.com, and follow him on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Vimeo, and YouTube.

You guys know I’m a big fan of Lightroom Mobile, and for the past few months I’ve been working on a Lightroom Mobile book, and I’m excited to announce it launches today!

Here’s the link to pick up your copy:

> Amazon (in print or Kindle edition)
> Barnes & Noble

…and of course it’s in bookstores now, so you can find it wherever cool books on Lightroom are sold.

I hope you’ll give it a look – I went really in-depth on the book, and I think it’s going to help a lot of people.

Just 12 days to my 9th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk
If you haven’t signed up for a walk, – now’s the time – we have over 1,000 photo walks in cities all around the world. Come sign up (it’s free, and open to everybody!).

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New this year: the “Video Shot During the Photo Walk” competition
And our awesome sponsor, Canon USA, has put together an amazing prize for the winner of this category — They are giving away a Canon Video Creator Kit (seen above), to the best video submitted from the walk (the video has to be created during the official photo walk). The kit includes the new Canon EOS 80D Body; their new 18-135mm lens; a Canon Power Zoom AdapterRODE VideoMic Go; a 32G SD Card, and all the other goodies (battery, charger, strap, etc.). 

What could be a better start for your week than helping some Orphans?
We’re at about 25% of our donation goal, but you can get us a lot closer. Here’s the link to donate to the Springs of Hope Orphanage (built with the help of donations from people who read this blog, and who participate in the Worldwide Photo Walk each year). Thank you in advance for having a giving heart.

OK, I’m off to Minneapolis…
for my seminar there on Wednesday, then I’m heading to Milwaukee on Friday. Busy week! Thanks to everybody who visited my Exposure page about my Iceland trip – if you didn’t get by there, here’s the link.

Catch you all here on Wednesday (or in Minneapolis)!

Best,

-Scott

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Hi Gang, and happy Friday!

I finally I posted my images, and the story of the trip, over at exposure.co (that’s the photo storytelling site I’ve been using for a few years now — it’s a wonderful way to share a trip like this).

Here’s the link

Thanks for letting me share some of my photos from the trip with you. :)

Hey, I’m in Minneapolis next Wednesday, and then Milwaukee on Friday doing my seminar – hope you can join me.

Best,

-Scott

canon5dmarkiv

Camera Essentials: Canon 5D Mark IV with Larry Becker
Get up to speed on the Canon 5D Mark IV! Join Larry Becker as he shows you around one of Canon’s newest cameras on the market today. In this class Larry will teach you about all the settings that matter most, the key features and functions, and help you get going quickly with tips and insight about the specifics of using this camera for both stills and video. By the end of the class you’ll be familiar with all of the buttons, dials, and menus you need to know to get the most out of this powerful camera.

In Case You Missed It
Join Rich Harrington, motion graphic artist, author, and trainer, on location at Kelby Studios as he takes you through every step in the process of creating a video product for a client. Learn everything involved in creating a professional quality video with your DSLR, from the initial client meeting to scouting locations, and from all the essential gear to how to conduct engaging interviews. Each step of the way Rich provides expert insights and killer tips to get you well on your way to adding video story telling to your bag of tricks.

First, I would like to thank Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk for again supporting Springs of Hope Kenya (SOHK) in giving hope to children who have no one—children that have been abandoned and abused or orphaned.

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This event has become crucial for SOHK and our children. Those that participate and donate help us provide the necessities that every child deserves: food, shelter, and an education. But, most importantly, the Photo Walk gives us the means to move forward in our endeavors to grow and care for the children of Kenya. The Photo Walk also provides children with security, self-esteem, and a place to call home—a place to love and be loved; a place where they don’t have to worry about where they will sleep at night, or if they will eat, or if they will survive this life at all. Through you, they now have a place where dreams don’t have to die, but where they are nurtured; a place where these children won’t be a statistic, but where they will know a future and most of all, hope.

I moved to Kenya in 2008 to start this adventure. Our dream of starting a children’s home in Kenya had finally come to fruition. But, I soon learned that this dream would bring with it many heartaches and difficulties, and it was not going to be easy. These demands took a toll on me, and forced me to rethink my vision of doing this with my husband and family. I eventually realized I was going to be doing this on my own.

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I wasn’t aware of the depths of the issues I would be dealing with — I guess I naively thought we would have all these sweet children who no one wanted, and that we could make it all the better for them. Little did I know that I would be dealing with not only orphans, but also children who had been abandoned and brutalized — physically, emotionally, and sexually. Some issues I had only read about in the newspapers; problems that happen to “other people,” not to people I know and not to children. I didn’t know that these issues would become commonplace for me. I did not think about all the death I would see and experience, or that I would see children that I’d grown to care for and love die before my eyes—something you can never get accustomed to.

I realized these children come with emotional and psychological scars
 that need to be addressed, and they would need healing. I have found out that cute little street boys grow up and can turn into angry young men, and they need counseling and healing. I know now that these children have been hurt deeply — some have been tossed away like rubbish their entire lives. They have had no love or guidance by a parental figure, man or woman. These children have been failed in every way imaginable. These are young people who have been fending for themselves and looking for someone or something to hold on to all of their lives. I did not know that that person would be me.

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I am happy to say that we have worked hard, and through experience SOHK has become a place that with love, care, professional counseling, and encouragement we are turning the tides for these children. We diligently work hard to reunite children with extended family members within healthy home situations, so that these children can have real family experiences to thrive and grow. Some of our children have found forever families through adoption, but in many situations, this is not an option.

Many cannot be reunited or adopted, and that is when we step in and be the family they so desperately need. We have so many success stories, like Dennis and Anthony, who had no future but the streets or death. Maliaka Faith came to us malnourished and we later found out needed two major heart surgeries. Grace and Alex, whose mother died tragically, had nowhere to go. Sometimes I fear to think of where these children would be, or if they would even be alive, if it were not for SOHK and people like you supporting us through the Photo Walk.

Springs of Hope Kenya is not only a home to all of these beautiful children, it is a beacon of hope and opportunity in our community. We employ more than 50 people, which helps the people in our community support themselves and their families, and enables them to educate their children. Our sewing center, Bagamoyo, trains women and men living with HIV, and once they are trained we provide jobs for them. They can then support themselves, go to their clinics, and support their children (see Lillian and Terry’s story).

Our goal is to help keep them healthy and prevent their children from being the future orphans of Kenya. We are working with Professor Tiffany Chenneville Ph.D., from the University of South Florida, to create a program called SEERS (Stigma Reduction Through Education, Empowerment, and Research) in our community, along with youth in schools and colleges. The goal is to educate them on HIV/AIDS to reduce the stigma among the youth in our community.

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We also help many people living in poverty in our community. We provide education for locals who cannot afford to go to school. We work with the Lions Club to facilitate eye clinics for children in our local schools. We provide local education and training for caregivers and teachers dealing with children who come from traumatic backgrounds. These are just a few of the ways you are helping SOHK to make an impact in the world.

Our goals are big and, again, we are so grateful to Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk for helping us attain them. We are determined to be self-sustaining, and we know that we need a viable plan for the future of SOHK and our children. We are currently working on these three projects:

  • Bagamoyo: Again, this program creates jobs and training through making beautiful bags from African materials. We are working on selling them in the U.S. online and locally in Kenya. While we’re also helping the people making the bags, the goal is to use the funds made from selling them to support our children.

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  • Farming: We have started to grow our own crops—agriculture is the number one business in Kenya. Our goal is to cut food costs and sell food to our community, which will help with the cost of our children’s home. We have a vision of milking cows and raising chickens, along with maintaining two greenhouses. We also plan to use this program as an educational opportunity for our children.

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  • Kambi Amani (Camp Peace) Eco-Camp: This project has been in the works for a few years. It is a beautiful camp built to sustain, train, and provide hope for our children. While we have been able to open the camp, we have had to work in stages to complete it. This program creates jobs for our former street children and orphans through training and through tourism and hospitality. It also serves the local community through employment opportunities, and revenue from this project goes to the future education of our children. By building basic camping and luxury camping experiences for tourists and missionaries, this will, in turn, bring awareness to SOHK, and the orphans of Kenya, along with the beautiful natural environment of Kenya. SOHK plans to make the camp available during downtime for locals to rent for weddings, company retreats, and other events. This will enable us to raise funds year-round and not just in high season. Kambi Amani (Peace Camp) is a labor of love for our children.

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Looking to the future, we want to make sure we can continue serving children who have no one in this world. We want to be able to support them and their education without asking for donations in the future. But, we have found the old saying to be true, “It takes money to make money.” To Complete Kambi Amani Eco-Camp we have to raise $100,000 USD. This is a lot!!! I know. But, we really wanted everyone who has diligently donated through the Photo Walk to understand and be fully aware of what we are all about, and to also let you know that you are making a difference!

So, despite all the suffering, the heartache, and the questions of “why?” 
because of you, we get to see children who have no one being loved daily! 
Babies that come to us malnourished and near death become healthy and full-of-life and hope. Boys who once had no hope of education are now looking forward to attending college and having a future. Women and men who lived with the stigma of HIV/AIDS and no self-worth are building their self-esteem and getting a new lease on life.

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We get to witness God’s miracles everyday. You are making a difference! Large or small it all matters in the end!

Love and Peace,

Molly Waits
Springs of Hope Kenya

Editor’s Note:

Check out the #WWPW2016 Springs of Hope Fundraiser Here

The Fundraiser is hosted with IndieGoGo’s Generosity.com, which allows 100% of the donations to go directly to the Springs of Hope. All your donations are secure and protected via IndieGoGo’s Security and Safety.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umfLabd40Po

DONATE TODAY

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We’re only 19-days away from the big day, and so I thought I’d give you a quick briefing on where we are to date:

  • We have currently active photo walks in over 1,006 cities
  • We have another 56 photo walks in draft mode, so the leader of each is working on making it active.
  • We have approved a total of 1,356 photo walks altogether, but about 300 of those never activated their walks (so they signed up to lead a walk; got approved, but never went back and created the walk they were approved for).
  • We have over 10,730 walkers registered so far.
  • We have raised $6,502 for the Springs of Hope Orphanage via your donations on Generosity.com (17% of our $35,000 goal).
  • So far, our T-shirt sales have brought in approximately $3,000 for the Orphanage as well
  • Our total raised so far  (donations & t-shirt sales) is nearly $10,000 (well, give or take $448) so we’re well on our way!!! :)

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New black T-shirts this year! (100% of the profits go to Springs of Hope)
Order your shirts now, so you have a chance to get yours before the walk, and you can wear it proudly at the walk.

Here’s the link to the t-shirts. 

Closing New Walk Applications
At this point, we’ve approved over 1,000 photo walks around the world, but some leaders never went and activated their walks, and we’re getting so close to the October 1st walk date, that we’re cutting off the applications for new walks, so we can all focus on getting the word out about the walks that are set-up and running.

I’m hosting the local walk in Venice, Italy…
…and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s been nine years (I think) since I’ve been there, and I can’t wait to go back and make some new images of that wonderful city. Also, I’m taking a trip up to the Dolomite Mountains which is an area I’ve wanted to visit for years. Looking forward to meeting every one there for our walk.

If you haven’t joined a photo walk yet…
It’s not too late. Check to see if there’s a walk near you – http://worldwidephotowalk.com

That’s it for this quick update. :)

Hope you have a rockin’ Tuesday!

Best,

-Scott

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