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Over the past few years, my career path has transformed from studying business in college, to one as a freelance photographer and designer for major brands and top musicians. 

But, that’s not what I want to talk about today. 

Today, I want to talk about taking pictures of “boring things.”

As I was starting to dabble with photography in college, I did a year-long one-a-day photo challenge to try to capture my everyday life with a unique perspective.

Some days I very quickly found the shot. I’d be going cliff jumping with my friends, or would be at a concert with cool lighting. Those days were easy.

Other days, however, were the days I really learned how to see. How do I take a cool photo of me writing an essay, eating breakfast, or what is aesthetically interesting about the walk back home that I had seen so many times?

I accidentally dropped my breakfast in that last one actually. Instead of letting the moment go by as an inconvenience, my one-a-day challenge mindset allowed me to see it as an opportunity for a photo.

The year long photo challenge of photographing “boring” ended up playing a huge role in changing the way I see the world, and in turn the way I grew as a photographer.

I want to encourage you to grow in the same way, and I want to start with a few questions:

Have you ever stopped and looked at the aesthetics of a pencil? The color of the side and eraser, the hexagonal geometry, the way the edges transform when it is being sharpened?

Because of my one-a-day challenge, I finally did.

Or have you ever paused while cleaning the dinner table and noticed the patterns of plates, the tones of the leftovers, and the way it quietly tells a story of the conversations just had moments before?

This was post-thanksgiving a year ago.

There is so much potential beauty to be found in the little moments around us. We just have to take the time to step back and see how not “normal” everything is. We get so accustomed to seeing stoplights or puddles, but if you actually think about what you are looking at, those things are ridiculous! A candle for example:

Crazy right??

I want to challenge you guys to find something today that you overlook and try to capture it in a new light.
You don’t have to capture the whole thing either. In fact, I find that simplicity in aesthetic helps highlight what is often overlooked.

Look for things like pattern, texture, color, composition, juxtaposition, and especially light. Also, consider including a human element to your photos by directing a friend or capturing a stranger. It’s the little things you wouldn’t normally notice that can set your photos apart.

No matter if you are in fashion, sports, landscapes, or somewhere in between, intentionally stopping to notice the beauty around you will begin transforming the way you see the world, and especially the way you photograph.

You can see more of Connor’s work at ConnorDwyer.com, follow him on Instagram, follow Thad the Finger on Instagram, and check out his coloring book!

It’s “Faster Lightroom Classic Tuesday,” everybody!

Adobe just released another update to Lightroom Classic CC (the regular desktop Lightroom we all know and love), but today we will love it more because it’s much faster than ever before.

Lots of speed improvements throughout (building upon the speed enhancements from the October update), and you’ve probably already read test results leaked around the Web last week that show the new Lightroom Classic 7.2 is significantly faster in many areas (provided you have at least 12 GB of RAM – though I always recommend, and use 16-GB). Plus, they’ve made the process of creating Collections and Collection Sets from Folders tremendously easier, along with some other important tweaks that you’ll dig (it’s all good stuff).

Lightroom expert (and Photoshop World Instructor) Rob Sylvan did a post today on all the new 7.2 update features over on my other blog: LightroomKillerTips.com and if you’ve got a sec, he’s posted all the full details and screen caps there. Here’s the link. 

Next week, it’s you, it’s me, it’s Lightroom in Texas
Next week I’m in San Antonio and Houston for my Full-day Lightroom seminar (and yes — I’ll be showing the new stuff live at the seminar). You can still come out and spend the day with me – here’s the link.

After that I’m heading to the WPPI conference in Las Vegas (I’ll be doing a book-signing there at the Rocky Nook booth. Details to come). Maybe I’ll run into you there. :)

Alright, let’s go download the new Lightroom Classic! :)

Best,

-Scott

The Deadline to Enter The Lexar/KelbyOne Architectural Photo Competition is This Thursday
Just a heads up – you have until February 15, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. ET to enter.

After that, I’ll will select a winner, a runner up, and three honorable mentions. For more details and the official rules, here’s the link.

OK, pretty short and sweet (and there’s no reason not to enter — the contest is open to everybody!) Also, make sure you follow @lexarmemory on Twitter even if you don’t enter the contest – they share lots of cool images on their account.

Good luck everybody (and here’s to a great week!). :)

-Scott

P.S. One week from today I’m in San Antonio for my Full-day Lightroom seminar, and then onto Houston on Wednesday. Come out and spend the day with me – here’s the link. 

Unlocking the Power of Capture One with Clay Rasmussen
Join Clay Rasmussen to learn how to get up and running with Capture One. From live tethered capture to powerful image editing through output, Capture One is a one-stop-shop photography workflow tool. In this class Clay teaches you how to set up the workspace, organize your photos, shoot while tethered, leverage the editing suite, and prepare your files for a range of output scenarios.

This class is perfect for any photographer who wants to get started with Capture One.

Advanced Photoshop: The Psychology and Science Behind Color Grading with Viktor Fejes
Join Viktor Fejes for an advanced look at essential elements of color theory. From understanding color models and the science of RGB, to how to apply this knowledge when performing practical tasks such as color correcting and color grading. Viktor starts with the fundamentals and works up to advanced techniques used in cinema. If you want to manipulate color at will, understand the reasons why, and make your images look fantastic while doing it, then this class is for you.


Go Back Up Your Photos. Right Now!
On a regular basis I get an email or Facebook message with another heartbreaking story from a photographer who didn’t have a back-up of their photos, and they lost every photo they had taken in the last few years, including photos of their family — everything — gone forever.

Stop whatever you’re doing and right this very minute, and take a few minutes to protect the visual history of your life, and back up your images. Just drag them onto another hard drive. If you don’t have one: here’s a link to one of the portable drives I use —  it’s a WD 4-terabyte portable USB 3.0 drive for just $109 at B&H Photo. It works like a champ. It takes so much less effort than you’d think.

My Backup and Organization Strategy
If you’re a KelbyOne Pro member, I have an entire course on backing up and organizing your images on your back-up drive and then in Lightroom. It’s called my “Simplified Lightroom Image Management System” (or SLIM System for short) and folks have told me so many times how helpful it has been to them and you might find it helpful, too — here’s the link.

Anyway, this is just your friendly reminder that this is, officially, “Back Up Your Photos Friday.” :)

Hope yours is a productive one.

Best,

Scott

P.S. Just a little over a week until I’m in San Antonio and Houston with my Lightroom seminar. Come out and spend the day with me. I start the day by teaching my go backup and organization strategy. Here’s the link for tickets. 

Gary and his wife Vivian often work together on assignment. Photo by @jerseystyle_photography

I’d like to introduce you to a few ordinary people doing some extraordinary things. These are people that have zero followers on social media and will probably cringe in embarrassment when they find out we are “exalting” them. But their sacrifice, courage and selflessness can be a huge inspiration for us and the way we direct our lives.

As a photographer focusing mostly on humanitarian issues globally, I’ve been fortunate to witness and share visual stories of people who have been a huge catalyst for change in my own life. After every assignment, I choose to live more simply and intentionally.

So, here you will meet Olivia and Wisdom from Ghana, and Vishnu from India. In their own communities they are enriching and empowering the lives of many in their circles of influence. I hope these glimpses into the lives of a midwife, a tilapia farmer, and a blind teacher impact you as well.

Olivia lifts a little baby boy with only one hand, like she was lifting a bunch of bananas.

Olivia – The Midwife
It is 105 degrees outside and only a little cooler inside the delivery room of the rural clinic in remote Ghana. Lit by window light only, Olivia lifts the little baby boy with only one hand, like she was lifting a bunch of bananas, onto a white metal scale. The child, only a few minutes out of the womb, lets go a healthy cry as his skin contacts the cold metal. A moment later, Olivia gently wraps the baby, burrito style, in a clean blanket and his crying immediately stops, the newborn once again feeling warm, cocooned and safe.

Olivia teaches a new male nurse about caring for pregnant women.

Olivia has delivered over 1,600 babies in the last ten years in the sparsely equipped clinic that has no electricity or water, but this clinic is still considered an oasis for the women seeking her help for their deliveries. Without it, the closest medical assistance would be 30 miles away, along a potholed, dusty, dirt road.

A newborn baby at Olivia’s clinic.

“Since I came here I have never lost a baby. I know God has helped me a lot,” says Olivia. “I enjoy working with the poor in the villages because I want to save lives. The challenges are so many. We have bad roads. We don’t have lights.” But she adds, “My passion is delivering babies and taking care of pregnant women. I become happy when I deliver a baby safely, without losing the child.”

Olivia at her clinic in rural Ghana.

Wisdom – The Tilapia Farmer
There’s a good reason Wisdom Yao Nyador, who doesn’t know how to swim yet, spends most of his days on the waters of Lake Volta in Ghana.

Wisdom heads out to his tilapia farm in Lake Volta, Ghana.

Tending to their tilapia several times a day, he and others workers climb into small wooden canoes and paddle out to 4 cages anchored in the deeper parts of the lake. They hop on bobbing narrow wooden frames supporting nets and throw out feed to the always hungry tilapia.

Wisdom, center, on one of his tilapia farms.

Wisdom, 27, graduated from college to be a pastor, but he saw a great need for employment among the people in rural communities. Motivated to learn about tilapia farming to help his people in a practical way, he is now the farm manager and is learning to swim.

Tilapia from Lake Volta, Ghana

“Ghana imports 54% of its fish,” he explains. His hope for the farm is “to become one of the largest tilapia producing farms in Ghana. I believe in this project. One of our visions is to become self-sufficient and be able to help out many mission projects we have…and in order to give employment to people in the community.”

Wisdom and his dugout canoes.

Vishnu – The Blind Teacher
Sometimes the blind leading the blind is a good thing. Vishnu is a blind teacher teaching braille to blind students in rural India.

Vishnu teaches blind students. He too is blind.

His passion and compassion is evident as he patiently uses his hands to guide the fingers of young students over pins on metal braille tablets. I think by teaching these blind students I am serving God,” he says.

Vishnu teaches braille to a blind student.

Before coming to this home and school for the blind and deaf, most of these blind students were begging on the streets. “My first goal is that children who are blind should not have to go and beg,” says Vishnu. He tells everyone he meets to support blind people for their entire education and not just by giving one time to a blind beggar. “As many as 44,000 children fall into the clutches of the beggar mafia in India each year, and of these, hundreds are deliberately mutilated,” according to the national newspaper Daily Mail in the United Kingdom. Once disfigured or permanently maimed in some way, the children are then put out on the streets to beg.

A class of deaf children takes a break from book studies with stretching exercises.

Vishnu says he is thrilled to be teaching at the orphanage and school. “Nobody supported me when I was growing up blind. These children are so fortunate that the mission is doing so much on their behalf.” He adds, with obvious joy and pride, “I am confident that these children will one day get good jobs, not only in India, but abroad too. And hopefully, they will support children like themselves that have struggled.”

By touching the walls and feeling the sunlight at doorways, Yogendra navigates the rooms at the school for the blind and deaf.

A big thank you to Scott and Brad for generously affording me this platform to share some of my favorite people and their stories with you.

You can see more of Gary’s work at GarySChapman.com, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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