My Love of Reading Part 2

 

The first post of this two part series was a more personal post talking about my love of reading. This second post will deal with some of the books (and ideas within them) that have highly influenced my thinking.

How to Read a Book – Mortimer J Adler

I first read Mortimer J Adler’s How to Read a Book in 2016 after it was suggested to me by a friend in 2015. This book has greatly improved my reading ability (and comprehension) further growing my love of reading. Adler talks about the different levels of reading and how to determine which level is necessary for the type of book you are reading. Even though many of the principles in Adler’s book may seem simple it is incredibly practical and helpful for improving your reading ability and speed.

The Moment it Clicks – Joe McNally

Joe McNally’s The Moment it Clicks was hugely influential on me when I first read it when I was in my sophomore year of high school. Joe McNally is one of the most sought after portrait photographer’s working today. He has photographed many celebrities and has worked for publications including National Geographic and Life Magazine. This book is a combination of a coffee table book and a photography how to book. McNally retells the stories behind several of his images taken through his prolific career and gives the technical photographic details behind how he captured the images. Even though I may not agree with some of McNally’s views outside of photography this book was hugely influential on me pursuing professional photography and later attending Hallmark Institute of Photography (where I would befriend one of McNally’s later assistants).

 

The E-Myth Revisited – Michael Gerber

Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited was first recommended to me by a professor when I was in college. I never got around to reading the book until late 2016. It has been one of the most influential business books I have read in my life. Gerber talks about how most people who are good at a technical skill (such as photography) assume that they will be good at running a business that specializes in that technical skill. This assumption is false and is one of the reasons most small businesses fail. To run a successful business you must know more than the technical skill the business provides but also know how to run a business. Running a successful business is all about setting up systems and working on your business instead of just in it. This advice greatly impacted the changes I made to Ryan Watkins Photography during my off season in later 2016 and early 2017 (making it run smoother and more efficient). I would highly recommend The E-Myth Revisited to anyone interested in running their own business.

The Conservative Mind – Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind was recommended to me by some friends from church. This book is an extended essay in the meaning of conservatism in the line of Edmund Burke. Kirk spends over four hundred pages expounding the principles expressed by Burke and those who have followed in his tradition. Part of Kirk’s masterpiece which was especially impactful on me was near the end of the book where he talks about the dangers of both individualism and collectivism. This helped me see the importance of community (especially locally) which is something I’ve tried to cultivate and have made an active effort to be part of since reading Kirk.

 

The Westminster Confession of Faith – Westminster Assembly

When I started compiling this list I found it difficult to decide what theological books I would include on this list. Over the last few years theology has been what I’ve primarily read due to my shift from the non-denominational church I grew up in to confessional reformed theology. There are tons of books which have been incredibly impactful to my thinking in this area but I think the majority of the thinks expressed in other books get covered somewhere in the Westminster Confession of Faith. The Westminster Confession of Faith is a historic confession coming out of the protestant reformation and is held to by the church I am a member of (the Orthodox Presbyterian Church). I believe this to be the best summation of the teaching of Holy scripture and would highly recommend fellow Christians or those curious about the historic Biblical Christian faith become acquainted with it.   

Ordinary – Michael Horton

Another theological book I read recently and would highly recommend is Ordinary by Michael Horton. This books focuses on what living an ordinary Christian life in an ordinary town and an ordinary family practically looks like. I found this book incredibly comforting.

If you are a fellow lover of reading check out my profile on Goodreads where I regularly update which books I’m currently reading and write reviews of books I’ve read in the past.

My Love of Reading Part 1

 

Many of my prior blog posts deal with practical things like prepping for your session, resources for getting started in photography, and short photography related how to articles. This however will be the first of several more personal blog posts where you can learn more about the man behind the camera.

I admittedly have very few hobbies. Part of this is due to my personality. I don’t dabble in things. I’m either really into something (very knowledgeable and passionate about it) or I’m not at all (very little knowledge and interest). There are plenty of things (potential hobbies) I find fascinating but have found few I’m willing to put this level of effort into. I always thought this was something kind of peculiar to me but I was relieved to see that this is something G.K. Chesterton had remarked on as well in his book “What’s Wrong with the World.” He mentions that men are good at being specialists, where as women are better at being generalists, resulting in women usually having more common sense than men. After reading this I’ve seen this principle played out in real life several times. For example I’ve been meeting with old friends from high school on a monthly basis now since fall 2017. At one of our recent get togethers (this time at O’Kelly’s in Mt Pleasant) a male friend and I were trying to get prepared for the rest of our group to arrive. My friend is the lead guitarist in a local band which is in the process of recording their first album with a famous producer in California (a good specialist). I’ve been published in several magazines and graduated with the highest academic honor (highest overall grades) from Hallmark Institute of Photography (again another good specialist). He and I tried to push two tables together so all of our expected guests could be seated together. His girlfriend tried to explain how to put the tables together. We ended up putting the tables in a T shape which resulted in a befuddled look from both his girlfriend and our waitress (both good generalists) who both had a far better understanding of how to do this common sense task than either he or I (both good specialists but both relative dunces when it came to common sense things like table placement). Eventually with his girlfriend and our waitress’ advice we were able to get the table in a place which would seat everyone.

When I was a kid I greatly disliked reading. We were forced to do “accelerated reader” tests in elementary school which I despised. In high school I read photography magazines and books but still wouldn’t have considered myself a fan of reading per say. It wasn’t until I was done with my formal education that I grew to love reading. In 2014 I started studying reformed theology due to the influence of a friend at a bible study in Clare. This was one of the major things which prompted me to start reading in 2014. As the years have went on reading has became one of my primary hobbies.  

In 2016 and 2017 I’d read over 50 books each year averaging approximately a book a week. I read primarily non fiction, but hope to read more fiction once I get more of the non-fiction books I deem a higher priority off my to read list. These books range in topics from theology to politics to business to practical skills.

 

A question I get asked regularly is “how do I have time to read so much?”. First of all, as I had mentioned prior, I don’t have many hobbies. I think this is one of the keys. As a kid I spent a decent amount of time watching TV and movies, playing video games, listening to music, and also practicing martial arts. As I took more interest in photography I left martial arts and significantly cut back on the time I spent playing video games. When I went to college I didn’t have a TV and was so swamped with school that I had very little time for other activities. After college I got used to not watching much TV or many movies, nor did I own any contemporary game consoles and still don’t to this day. In 2014 I drastically cut back on the time I spent listening to music and only recently decided to pick the hobby backup again in early 2017.

As I’ve talked with people (especially fellow millennials) I’ve realized I’m definitely the outlier when it comes to entertainment. I seldom watch TV or movies. I occasionally buy a CD from some obscure prog rock band I like and listen to it for months (usually while retouching or doing other busy work) before buying another. Even when I read it is primarily for education rather than entertainment. I seldom read a book just for fun, but instead because I want to learn something (hence why I primarily read non-fiction instead of fiction). Part of my desire to learn comes from being honest with myself and realizing there is a lot I don’t know. Many people I talk to seem as if they live for entertainment. They work just to spend the little they make on video games systems and video streaming. As I’ve grown older and see how others live their lives that more I realize that I’d much rather spend my time learning (via books, lectures,or podcasts) or doing actual things with people (fellowship with people from church, meeting up with friends over beer, going to networking events and art gallery openings, seeing a local band in concert, etc). We are social creatures and need community and fellowship with others. Many times the things I learn from books or podcasts can become interesting conversation topics at the various aforementioned community events. Sometimes I learn more from the conversations about books I’ve read than I did from the reading the book itself. This concept is echoed in the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad where the author mentioned that we don’t just learn from books and lectures but also from life experiences.  

 

Another thing which allows me to read so many books is changing how I read the book depending on the content of the book. A book I would highly recommend is Mortimer J Adler’s “How to Read a Book”. In this book he talks about the different levels of reading and how different books require a different level of reading. Most business books (for example) only require a systematic skimming (where you only need to understand the main points of the book) to get all there is out of the book. Other meatier, weightier books require analytical reading (which goes beyond just a surface level understanding of the main points of the books material). Lastly Adler talks about syntopical reading which combines things learned from several books to go beyond what any one of the authors said (this is where things get fun).

Another things which allows me to read so many books is changing the format of the book I read depending on the content. Books which I’m not taking notes on (like fiction) are best listened to in audiobook form. On the other hand if I want to take a lot of notes e-books allow me to easily copy and paste text from the book into a note. I use Evernote for all my note taking purposes. E-books can also be bought for a fraction of the cost of traditional books. Most books I purchase are from the Amazon kindle store on sale for between $0.99-$4.99. Price wise most are around $1.99-$2.99. I also frequently find traditional books at Goodwill for $0.99 before taxes.

Another reason I’m able to read so many books is much of what I read is in the public domain. Gutenberg.org and monergism.com are websites I frequently use to find classic books in e-book form. LirbriVox.org also has many public domain books in audiobook form (quality of the content can be hit or miss).

The next post in this series will talk about some of the books I have read which were highly influential on me.

P.S. My second shooter Nikki Robinson always jokes that I’m becoming a crotchety old man. After proof reading this I’m starting to become more self aware of that fact.

Horses Photographed for Harvey Byler and Sons in Clare, Michigan

 

During my busy season (approx June-October) I photograph primarily portrait and wedding photography. One of my favorite things about my slower season is I usually get hired to photograph other unique subjects such as this shoot for Harvey Byler and Sons. In mid February I got to photography several horses for Harvey Byler and Sons which will be sold at an upcoming auction in March. It was great getting to work with Harvey who is one of the nicest guys you could meet. If you need metal roofing done or are looking to buy some horses I would highly recommend getting into touch with Harvey Byler and Sons here in Clare, Michigan. Below are my favorite images from the shoot.

Night To Shine at SVSU

 

I had a great time photographing Night to Shine a charity event sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation at Saginaw Valley State University in early February. It was great to see the joy on the faces of those being honored that evening. They had a plethora of great local photographers covering the event which made for a very stress free evening. It was great being able to meet and talk shop with several very talented Saginaw area photographers. For those looking for a charitable event to help support I would highly recommend Night to Shine. Below are my favorite images from the event.

Body Works By Lacey at The H Hotel in Midland, Michigan

 

I had a great time photographing Lacey Barcalow from Body Works By Lacey in early February. Lacey got us access to The H Hotel’s gym for this shoot. Lacey is a certified nutritionist, personal trainer, and health coach. For brides trying to get in peak physical condition for they’re wedding day I would highly recommend going to Lacey. For inquires about Lacey’s services she can be contacted at bodyworksbylacey@gmail.com. Here are my favorite images from the session.

Photo Styling Tips and Tricks for Families

All good portrait sessions take preparation. Here are a few quick tips for making sure your family portraits look great.

First of all make sure everyone has had a good night’s sleep. Everyone looks and feels better when they are well rested and this shows through in the final images. Also try to schedule the shoot for a less stressful day is recommended so everyone will be in a better mood and better images will result.

Make sure your outfits are matching. Similar colors but not the exact same outfit is the best. For examples all wearing cool or warm colors looks great.

If your family has any shared hobbies or interests these can be great to incorporate into your family portrait session.

Harley and Damen Couples Portrait Session in Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

I had a great time photographing Harley and Damen’s couples portraits in Grand Rapids, Michigan in early February. I love an excuse to go to Grand Rapids (one of my favorite cities in Michigan). I always appreciated it when clients are willing to brave the cold weather for a shoot like Harley and Damen did as well. Here are my favorite images from the session.

Photo Styling Tips and Tricks for Seniors

All good portrait sessions take preparation. Here are a few quick tips for making sure your senior portraits look great.

First of all make sure you have had a good night’s sleep. Everyone looks and feels better when they are well rested and this shows through in the final images. Also try to schedule the shoot for a less stressful day is recommended so everyone will be in a better mood and better images will result.

If you have any hobbies or interests they can look great when incorporated into your senior portrait session. This can even involve shooting at locations unique to your hobbies and interests.

Wardrobe wise bringing cloth that you usually dress in will look best. Try to avoid large logos and distracting patterns, since they will draw attention to your clothing instead of your face. Lastly bring a combination of both lights and darks and a combination of formal and casual is recommended.