Loving Our Little Platoons

I get asked a lot why I decided to stay in mid-Michigan and more specifically Clare. As I’ve grown older I’ve grown to love where I live. This hasn’t always been the case though. When I was in high school I’d fall in love with any place I’d travel to. My parents and I went on a trip to the Canadian Rockies and I loved it there. I went to visit the town I would later live in in Massachusetts and I loved that area as well. After moving to Greenfield, Massachusetts I became home sick and decided to move back to my hometown of Clare after graduating from the Hallmark Institute of Photography. Going from the fast pace of college in New England to the sleepy midwestern town was a rough transition for me. After a few months I was ready to leave. I went on small trips to visit different cities. I even applied for jobs in various places but nothing came thru. I’d take any excuse to travel and get away. In 2016 I decided to stay in Clare, Michigan. As I became more ingrained in local communities the more I grew to love the area. I joined an amazing church. I got reconnected to my old friends from high school. I joined a local collaborative workspace. I became part of other organizations and networking groups. I found contentment where I was. Instead of searching for joy elsewhere I grew to love what I had.

“To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed toward a love to our country and to mankind.” Edmund Burke – Reflections On The Revolution In France

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New Personal Work with Model Felisha in Mt Pleasant, Michigan

In 2019 I’ve been making a point of working with new models in new locations. For my latest personal work shoot I had the privilege of working with Felisha from Mt Pleasant. We started the shoot on the trails next to Nelson Park and then headed to downtown. Most images where shot with natural light but a few were taken with my Alienbee strobe with a bare bulb as well. Huge thanks to Felisha for modeling. I can’t wait to work with her again!

New Personal Work with Model Kristina at The Tridge in Midland, Michigan

I had a great time photographing model Kristina at The Tridge in Midland, Michigan last week. Kristina is a fellow photographer and distant cousin of mine. Her boyfriend Jeremy also tagged along and was super helpful with making sure my flash won’t fall over despite the high winds.

The first image was shot using my Alienbee with a white shoot thru umbrella. The high winds made this shot difficult to get but with Jeremy’s help we were able to stabilize the light and get the image.

The next images were shot on the Tridge itself once there were less people walking. For some of these images I had Jeremy hold a Yongnuo flash as a subtle fill light and for others I used natural light.

Next we did a shot in the same location as the first image but this time with hard light from the bare bulb Yongnuo instead of the soft umbrellaed Alienbee.

Lastly we headed to downtown Midland and did some images in front of the court house. These images were shot with natural light.

Huge thanks to Kristina for modeling and Jeremy for assisting.

Kristen Garder Senior Portrait in Midland and Clare Michigan

I had a great time photographing Kristen’s senior portraits last week! We started the shoot at Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan. Dow Gardens is one of my most frequented locations offering a wide variety of scenery to shoot with. Kristen did multiple cloth changes and bought some props like her flag from color guard to make the shoot more personal to her. She had her sister, and my longtime friend, Ashley join her in a few photos as well. After shooting at Dow Gardens we went back to Clare for a few images with her dog.

Productivity Hacks: Single Tasking

Over the years of owning my own business I’ve came to learn a lot of valuable things. These have been learn via trial and error, books, podcasts, magazines, and discussions with fellow entrepreneurs. One of the best productivity hacks I’ve learnt is single tasking.

When I first started running my business full time I would try to multitask. I’ve be trying to retouch, answer emails, do website updates, post to social media, and do a variety of busy work all at once. I regularly get confused as to what I was working on and rarely got much done. I’d have some many tabs and software open I regularly have my computer freeze up. Over time I learned that doing one task at a time was far more productive.

Now I try to single task. Single tasking is a very simple process. I simply take one thing I’m working on at a time instead of trying to do multiple things at once. For example today I’m working on blog posts. I’ll write a blog post, proofread it, then schedule it on my blog, and lastly schedule it via Buffer to be sent out to social media. I’m not retouching, accounting, nor writing social media copy. I’m just working on writing blog posts. By taking one task at a time I have become far more efficient and get much more done.

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New Personal Work with Model Rocio in Gladwin, Michigan

During 2019 I’ve been making a point of doing shoots in less photographed places. For this shoot with long time friend Rocio we headed to downtown Gladwin, Michigan. All images were taken with natural light and an 85mm f/1.8 Lens.

Guzowski Family Portrait in Farwell, Michigan

I had a great time getting to photograph fellow Jaycees members Mike, Sandra, and their adorable son Grant. Grant was one of the best behaved and cutest kids I’ve had the opportunity to photograph in a long time. All of the photos were taken near their home in Farwell, Michigan.

When To Put The Camera Down

I am constantly reading books. Not because I think I’m smart. For the opposite reason actually. I’m aware there is so much I don’t know and need to learn. I came across this passage recently which got me thinking.

“we need to rethink our memories. What if the point-and-shoot cameras in our phones make us less capable of retaining discrete memories? One psychologist calls this camera-induced amnesia the “photo-taking impairment effect,” and it works like this: by outsourcing the memory of a moment to our camera, we flatten out the event into a 2-D snapshot and proceed to ignore its many other contours—such as context, meaning, smells, touch, and taste… If the cameras in our pockets mute our moments into 2-D memories, perhaps the richest memories in life are better “captured” by our full sensory awareness in the moment—then later written down in a journal. This simple practice has proven to be a rich means of preserving memories for people throughout the centuries. Photography is a blessing, but if we impulsively turn to our camera apps too quickly, our minds can fail to capture the true moments and the rich details of an experience in exchange for visually flattened memories. Point-and-shoot cameras may in fact be costing us our most vivid recollections. But until we are convinced of this, we will continue to impulsively reach for our phones in the event of the extraordinary (or less).” Tony Reinke – 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You

When I was in middle and high school I had a camera with me all the time. The camera on me was always the best camera I owned. I would document everything. Hanging out with friends. Family get togethers. Nature scenes and wildlife on the way to and from church, school, or commissioned shoots. Everything. If I didn’t bring my camera with me it seemed like the event was a waste. During college my thinking started to shift. I started only bringing my professional camera with me to professional shoots for school or clients. As I grew older I became less and less obsessed with documenting every mundane detail of life. Instead I choose to live in the moment. This thinking didn’t change overnight. It wasn’t even something I really thought about until I came across the Reinke quote. It was something that gradually happened over time. In December 2013 I bought my first iPhone. The iPhone became the camera I would document ordinary life with instead of a professional camera. I even created a personal series of iPhone images from late 2013-2016. The series saw less and less additions as time went on. In 2017 almost no new images where added. In 2018 I fully removed the gallery from my website. Now in 2019 I rarely take photos with my iPhone. The exception would be images for other business related tasks instead of artistic endeavors. Photos of business cards, location scouting, or of my car so I can find out how to get back to where I parked. I’ve had to many awkward experiences with the former to not be overly cautious now. Get togethers with friends, networking events, and my other ordinary busy work see no photographic documentation from me.

A friend of mine who runs in the same entrepreneurial circles I do shares a similar outlook. He greatly enjoys travel, but doesn’t take photos of his trips. Why? Because he would rather enjoy the moment than worry about getting a good photo.

It is okay to put the camera down. Enjoy the moment. You don’t need to document every minute detail of your life.

“I now find peace in the realization that countless potential masterpieces happen each moment the world over and go unphotographed.” Dan Winters – The Road to Seeing

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New Personal Work with Model Cassi in Mt Pleasant, Michigan

This year I’ve been making a point of shooting more personal work. This helps me grow as a photographer, meet new models, and find new locations to photograph.

The first shoot I ever did with Cassi was back in 2012 before my formal training at the Hallmark Institute of Photography. Since then we have worked together multiple times. Some of my most creative and unique shoots have been with Cassi. These have included shoots at night lighting up craggily trees with flash. Belly dancing and post apocalyptic themed shoots, and also a trip to Ludington for natural light images on Lake Michigan. Some of these images would later be displayed as metal prints at the Four Leaf Brewery in downtown Clare.

For this shoot we went to Nelson Park in Mt Pleasant. This is one of my most frequented locations. I knew that trying to shoot something new and unique here would be difficult since I have shot it so many times. The first images we did with Cassi wearing her normal cloth in natural light. The leaves made the image almost look like it was shot in fall despite it being photographed in April. This was shot using an 85mm f/1.8 lens wide open to get a very shallow depth of field. Some more selective blurring was added in Photoshop.

Then Cassi changed into her medieval dress. We shot around a patch of three trees near the entrance of Nelson Park. Despite shooting at Nelson Park countless times before I don’t think I had ever shot around these three trees before. I had usually opted for the more obvious location choices like the rocks, waterfall, trail between parks, and weeping willow trees.

The first dress image was shot on tripod with my Alienbee B1600 Flash modified with a standard white shoot thru umbrella very close to Cassi. The closer the lightsource to the subject the more flattering the light. I shot two images one with Cassi and the light and one without Cassi and the light. I later merged these two images in Photoshop removing the light and keeping Cassi. The final result reminds me of my favorite Dutch masters paintings even though this wasn’t intentional going into the shoot.

The remaining images were shot with a very shallow depth of field and I intentionally places the trees between Cassi and I to create depth. To get a very shallow depth of field I used an ND filter which works like sunglasses for your camera. This allowed me to get to an f/1.8 aperture despite is still being relatively bright outside. All were lit with an Alienbee B1600 Flash modified with a shoot thru umbrella. By making changes in the shutter speed and light placement I was able to get a variety very different looks.

Huge thanks to Cassi for modeling! This is one of my favorite shoots we have done together to date.

Productivity Hacks: Buffer

In 2017 I made a ton of changes to my business. One of the smartest decisions I made was starting to use Buffer. Buffer allows me to schedule social media posts in advance from my computer or phone. I use Buffer to send posts to my business Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and the facebook group I manage. Using Buffer saves me a ton of time. I no longer have to interrupt conversations and other tasks to post at the optimum time on social media. I single task. I will write several weeks or months worth of social media copy at a time and schedule it using Buffer. I would highly recommend anyone who uses multiple social media platforms for business check out Buffer.

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