Sylvia & Robert engagement session

Last Sunday I spent the afternoon with Sylvia and Robert in downtown Austin. A huge part of photography is connecting with people so you do the best work possible. I had a blast connecting with them and learned a lot too. Robert is in the Army and will be headed back to Iraq about a month after their wedding. Being an armed forces geek I loved hearing his stories.

You can view the rest of the photos here.

Sylvia & Robert
Sylvia & Robert
Sylvia & Robert
Sylvia & Robert
Sylvia & Robert
Sylvia & Robert
Sylvia & Robert
Sylvia & Robert

White-man afro

When my hair grows (which it does quickly), it doesn’t grow long, it grows out. I haven’t had a hair cut since January 11th.

We’re in full ‘fro mode today.

Guess I need to take time to get it cut again.

Sneak peak

Business Journal 3-08 Cover

This has consumed the last week of my life. I say “of my life” because it’s been pretty much 8 a.m. to midnight days for over a week. We did a design refresh on The Business Journal to make it more magazine like. Everyone was very happy with the final product but, as with anything, I can’t wait to see how it gets tweaked and transforms over the next six months.

Final files went to the printer late last night and it hit the presses this morning. Today is massive amounts of catch-up from the last week and trying not to fall asleep. Weeks like this completely screw up my sleep patterns. I was so tired last night around 10, but wasn’t able to fall asleep until after two. It usually takes a week to decompress from this schedule. Usually just in time for another big project deadline to hit.

Recession?

I keep hearing about this recession and yet most people I talk to are predicting the best year they’ve ever had.

I think all the talk may be having an effect on big-ticket items like cars (I’ve got a client that will atest to that) but the rest of us seem to be doing more than great.

How’s your business looking this year?

Sunflower seeds

I have more than a few bad habits in my life.

One that tends to come and go is eating sunflower seeds. Man, they are good. You can buy them just about anywhere. A dump truck load of them is something like $2.00. I can just sit here and eat them all day. In fact I’m having some as I write this.

The downside(s)? I suck who knows how much salt into my body. They make me thirsty and all that water combined with all that salt makes me gain weight. And it’s pretty nasty when you walk in and find an overflowing cup of shells and a mess everywhere.

But worst of all, after a few days, that amount of salt basically burns your tastes buds off. It takes a while to recover. In the meantime, nothing has much taste. It takes everything else you eat and dulls it.

And yet every six months or so, I’ll buy a bag and have another go round for a week.And it strikes me that sin is just like this. Sin can feel great. The problem is sin makes me crave more sin, which makes me crave more sin, and so on. But the worst part is that it dulls everything in my life.

God came to give life. Life in abundance. When I sin, I put barriers between myself and God. If I’m not with God, I lose that abundance. Sure, I survive, but think of all I miss out on. All the things I do that go well? Think of how well they could have gone if sin wasn’t keeping me from God’s abundant life. The time with my family? Think how much more fulfilling it would be if I didn’t constantly sin. All the creative work I do? Think of how great it could really be if I wasn’t a sinner.

And to show God has a sense of humor, in the middle of writing this, I knocked of cup of shells into my lap. Nasty. Just nasty. Sometimes we keep our sin all nice and tidy, stored somewhere. And sometimes it comes spilling out in our laps for the world to see.

I know all this and yet I keep a bag of sunflower seeds within easy reach. I take no precautions to protect myself. It seems like such a good idea until I’ve gained five pounds in a week and can’t taste anything.

What are you missing out on? What’s your version of sunflower seeds?

I know you’re busy but…

Can we just retire this phrase?

Most people see it as a polite way of getting you to do something.

What you’re really saying, though, is “I know you’re busy, but what I’m about to tell you is far more important.”

The art of pricing

I’ve never been much of a haggler. Because of this I’ve never been a fan of pricing high so that you can show some kind of discount to the customer.

We went through all this when setting our photography packages. In the creative business there is usually room for negotiation. Most people consider art to be subjective, so the price should be too. I decided not to operate that way. Instead of setting our price high, we set it low. We picked a price we were comfortable with and provide a huge amount of value for it. I decided if someone wasn’t going to hire us because we didn’t give a discount, then that probably wasn’t someone I wanted to work with.

This leads to a few things.

One is simplicity. Our packages and prices are all laid out very clearly and our photos speak for themselves. Not being too high means most people don’t ask for a discount. When someone does, I’m more than comfortable politely pointing out what a good deal it is and refusing to negotiate. So far, I haven’t lost a single client that has asked for a discount.

The second is we have very happy clients. Because our prices are more than fair, when we deliver things above and beyond what is promised, they are blown away. This leads to referrals, which leads to more business.

Our prices will of course go up over time, but we’ll always make sure we deliver a lot. And we’ll price it fairly enough that we don’t have to negotiate.

So am I crazy? Do you prefer to price high and give discounts?

Don’t work?!

Something I’ve ignored for a very long time is observing a Sabbath day. It should be a day to reconnect with family and relax.

No work.

That’s really hard for me. I think God’s been pushing me to start doing a better job of it. I need one day a week when I don’t work. A day to just spend with the family relaxing. That sounds crazy, even as I write this, but it’s what the Bible lays out and I think I’m starting to feel the effects of not doing it.

I’m tired. My body has been pretty well abused for the past couple of years by constant work and stress. I find it hard to sleep at night but hard to get up in the mornings. By about 3 every afternoon I’m ready to give up for the day and take a nap. I’ve been told that if you don’t take a Sabbath, God will make you. Sometimes he does that by just shutting you down and making you stop.

My relationship with my family also isn’t as good as it should be. I find my temper short with the kids these days.

So practically how do I do it? Saturdays are sometimes good days but we have a ton of weddings coming up that are going to eat those up. Sundays are not good days. For anyone on staff at a church, you know Sundays are all about work, not relaxation. And if I call Sunday afternoons my Sabbath I’m really short changing my family badly. After teaching and getting the church ready on Sunday morning I’m pretty fried that afternoon and not a ton of fun to be around. It sounds like I’m just going to have to set a day, like Saturday, and make that my day. No work. Just family and relaxing. If a Saturday is full I’ll have to pick a day in the week and actually take off.

That’s a pretty hard challenge to reclaim a day in my schedule. But I also know if I don’t do it now, I won’t have much in the way of a family or physical health when I finally do take the time for it.

So how do you observe a day like that, or do you?

It’s not you Ken Burns, it’s me

I’m a self-confessed World War II junky. I watch documentaries. I listen to audiobooks. I watch Band of Brothers every few months.

But for some reason I just cannot get through the PBS documentary The War by Ken Burns. I think it’s a six disc set and I’m stuck on disc two. For about a month-and-a-half they’ve been sitting on my desk. I should just admit defeat and send them back to Netflix so I can move on to what ever is next in my queue.

But I can’t.

Why is it one of the most comprehensive looks at World War II just isn’t enthralling me? I’m the target audience for this thing.

A gamma-irradiated to-do list

It’s 11:30 on Thursday night. I’m sitting here staring at my to-do list for Friday. It contains 37 items that have to be done and about that many that are optional and could be shifted to next week. And that’s assuming A) I haven’t forgotten anything and B) nothing at all happens tomorrow (no e-mails, no phone calls and no changes to any of the work). Figuring both A and B are wrong the list will be growing.

I’m pretty sure my to-do list tomorrow is going to grow to Hulk-sized proportions.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I mean it when I say I love what I do.

Where can I find a good used igloo?

When I left Austin this morning it was a balmy 55 degrees. A quick two-hour drive north and I discovered Stephenville was a frigid 40 degrees.

Outside shoots all day.

Short sleeve shirt.

No coat.

I’m pretty sure my arms have frostbite.

Creativity defined

Prodigal Jon has the best definition of creativity I’ve ever seen.

Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.

That is, creativity is the ability to fill your mind with thousands of seemingly unrelated ideas and then with the discipline of your eye, see the relationships that exist between them in a way no one ever has.

The rest of the post is a great look at small sins in our lives and how they hurt us. In fact, it goes quite well with a little something I wrote yesterday.

And Jon, if you read this, I’ll shortly be stealing your “Goes well with” idea. I’ve noticed when I read a post, I almost always look at one or two of the links. Great idea.