The vacation month?

I read somewhere that August was a slow month for most. It’s the month people take last-minute vacations before the hustle and bustle of the fall overtakes us all.

Looking at the calendar I think I was on the road more than I was at home. And none of it was for vacation. Three out-of-town weddings, normal client work and three huge new projects.

So how was your August?

Getting the shot fast

Altebaumer Insurance

Another entry in my occasional series on life in photography.

I do a lot of editorial shooting. Some of it is live events but a good portion of it is portraits for business features like the shot above.

These are almost always challenging because you have to get the shot fast. This was the perfect example of the typical shoot. It was for a small story (which means small photo) and a magazine typically wouldn’t pay a lot for it. Add to that the fact that most of the people being photographed are busy and don’t have an entire afternoon to shoot photos. Most don’t even have 30 minutes.

So the typical shoot like this one takes about 10 minutes. And in that 10 minutes you have to make a compelling photo out of…..a man. And a sign. Exciting. No?

The only way to be able to take photos fast and great is experience. I’ve taken hundreds of photos under these conditions so I’ve gotten used to it. If you look back when I started a few years ago, this would have been a wider shot of a man standing straight up in front of his sign, staring at the camera. Not great.

Over time you learn how to direct people and learn different angles to shoot from. Anything to add a little more drama to what could potentially be a very, very dull photo. I’m proud of the shot above but it’s taken a lot of shooting to be able to produce something like that. And honestly it’s very easy to just do the boring shots because the publications are generally happy with that.

The thing is if you put the effort into learning you can be fast and good. Then you don’t have to be cheap.

A few other entires in this series can be found here, here, here, here and here.

September ’08 Business Journal sneak peek

Business Journal 9-08 Cover

The latest issue of The Business Journal is all about the environment and things we can do to help. We shot the photo at a small windmill farm near Lingleville, Texas. We were shooting for something epic in feel and I think it hit the mark. All the copy is still missing as we’re still designing this issue, but here’s an early look at it.

This issue should be available early next week.

Money issues

Yesterday I talked with two different churches, both having money issues. Summer tends to bring the lean times as people are gone or spending on other things. The economy hasn’t helped anything.

And here’s where the church is no different than your average marriage. Take mine for example. When money becomes scarce, my marriage suffers. The stress a lack of money brings puts the focus squarely on the financial situation. It makes that the center around which everything else revolves.

And let me tell you, it’s a crappy thing to base your life on. Suddenly you can’t see the amazing things happening around you. It’s all about the lack of money.

Same thing with churches. Struggling with money tends to slow things down. It distracts the focus of everyone involved. It can dull the dreams of what God can do.

So what do we do about it? I’d like God to just miraculously solve my money problems when I have them. However, he usually has us work our way out. Same thing with churches. He’s called us as members in the body of Christ to take care of this. Through good times and bad. Great economies and bad. The call of Christ to reach people does not change based on how well the stock market is doing. It’s either important to us at all times or it’s not.

If you’re church is struggling financially, step up. If you don’t give, really pray about it and give as you feel God calling you. If you’re skeptical, talk to someone who gives faithfully. I don’t know anyone who does so faithfully that will tell you they hate doing it. It’s an amazing feeling.

If you are one who already gives and goes over and above, go overer and abover (yeah I know, not real words, but it flowed).

This is ultimately not really about the church and money, it’s about our relationship with Christ and his call on our lives. Money is just one more way we sacrifice for God’s call to reach others.

Toys R Us

I’m pretty sure Toys R Us is some kind of other-worldly reality-altering vortex. Take Saturday for example where three times 15 equal $45 in the normal world. But in Toys R Us….

“Ok kids, we’re going to Toys R Us. You each have $15 to spend. Let’s do it quick, I don’t want to spend all day in there,” I said.

My thoughts are drowned out by the screaming and yelling of three boys excited about the future toy-buying splurge.

“$45 and 30 minutes,” I tell myself.

$85 and two hours later we walk out.

“What happened?” I asked myself slightly dazed.

Photo of the Day

I’m really covered up right now so I thought I’d post a few Photo of the Day features over the next few days to keep you from getting bored.

Erath on Fire - 1/3/08 Grass Fire

This was from a grass fire back in January. People fought hard to keep this house from being eaten by the fire.

Rachel’s bridal session

Last Saturday I shot Rachel and Kevin’s wedding. Both are friends from a previous job so we had a blast. Here’s a few of my favorites from Rachel’s bridal session. Rachel, her mom and grandma met me at the capitol building here in Austin back in April. We ended up shooting all over the city and had a blast.

One of my favorites (not because it’s technically great, but because of content) is the one below with the two white dogs. We were walking back into the capitol building and this lady was sitting there with the two beautiful white dogs. I figured that would look great with a beautiful bride in a white dress.

You can view the rest of the set here.

Rachel Thomason Bridal Session
Rachel Thomason Bridal Session
Rachel Thomason Bridal Session
Rachel Thomason Bridal Session
Rachel Thomason Bridal Session
Rachel Thomason Bridal Session
Rachel Thomason Bridal Session
Rachel Thomason Bridal Session
Rachel Thomason Bridal Session
Rachel Thomason Bridal Session

Diet Coke is For Fat People update

So at the beginning of the year I started the Diet Coke is For Fat People Challenge.

After seven weeks or so it trailed off, never to be heard from again. Until now. What happened? I got busy and I got fatter. Lately, however, I’ve been a little more determined to lose weight and get into shape. A few things I’m doing differently:

Swimming at least once a day. About to up it to twice a day if I can find the time.

Eating breakfast. Usually toast and water, but something to get my body going.

I need to get back on the treadmill. In a few months it’ll be too cold to swim and I don’t want to lose a bunch of weight only to gain it right back in the winter.

I signed up for Gyminee. You can see my profile here. I tend to keep up with things if I have a nice organized way to keep track of it all.

I broke my goals down into smaller pieces. My ultimate goal is to lose 50 pounds. That’s a big and quite frankly discouraging number. So I broke it down. My first goal is to lose 18 pounds and arrive at the still-overweight 230. From there it will be 215 then 200.

I’m doing better about stopping the mouth machine when I’m full. I don’t have to clean my plate. I’ve also cut back to a maximum of one coke/sweet tea a day. Usually it’s none but if I’m eating out I’ll have something nice an sugary.

I’m doing a little better and overall feel better after just a few weeks of swimming and eating better. I was inspired by a couple of posts Perry did here and here.

Drinking Diet Coke? Offended? I don’t really think it’s for fat people.
Read the history behind the name here.

Photo of the Day

Rachel & Kevin's Wedding Day

This may very well be one of my favorite pictures ever. The girls were getting ready for a dance they were doing at the reception. Then Rachel’s grandma decided she wanted in on the action. I’ve got about fifty others but they all lined up so well in this one. You really had to be there to feel the energy of it, but it’s a shot that means a lot.

The blow-out-extravaganza-fire-sale 1,000th post: Politics

I’ve thought long and hard about what to do for the 1,000th post on this blog. I considered doing something crazy with video. I considering blowing by it with no real attention paid to it. But, I really wanted to do something I’ve never done before. I’m writing a post about politics. It may turn out short (not likely). It may turn out long (more likely). Either way, stick it out to the end.

First, why I don’t write about politics normally: I don’t want to spend my precious life moderating comments which I’d have to do if we started talking politics. So I’m going to do this one post on politics, and probably regret it shortly afterward.

I’ve been very interested in our political system ever since I turned 18. Over the last decade since I fell in love with politics, I’ve fallen very much out of love with it. Not really with the idea, just with how the system works now. If I were breaking up with politics, it would be one of those “It’s not me it’s you” situations.

If you’re still reading this post hoping to see if I wave a McCain flag or talk about my Obama bumper sticker, you can stop now. I don’t have either. This presidential race is really the end of my interest in modern politics as it stands. Here we have a race that can really be described as the lesser of two mediocrities. I know there are a lot of supporters of both men, but I also know a lot of people who have no interest whatsoever in seeing either of these men in the office of president. I’m one of the latter.

Is it because they are bad men? No. It’s just because they are politicians. Notice I didn’t say they were bad politicians. To write that would imply that there are, somewhere out there, good politicians.

Both men are just victims of the political system. I think there was a time when the electoral system was about making sure everyone’s voice was heard. I think that time has long passed.

There is now one word that drives everything in politics. Win. Win at all costs. Win no matter what. Win.

And once you win. It becomes about winning again in four years. The pursuit of the almighty victory is what turns most politicians’ spines to jelly. It’s what causes them to say one thing today and the opposite tomorrow (and somehow still sleep at night). The hope of a win is the coal that powers the political train.

I’m going to throw an idea out there. It’s a little crazy. I’m sure I’m not the first to think of it. In fact, I’m sure I’m not the first to write about it either. But, you can just feel it when you talk politics with people. An underlying desire for change. Something flowing beneath the surface that could be better than what we have now.

What if politics wasn’t about winning?

But if you aren’t running to win, no one will give you money! And if no one gives you money, you can’t run ads! And if you can’t run ads, you can’t…win.

There it is.

That word. Any argument against politics not being about winning ultimately comes back to winning. It’s so ingrained in us, we can’t seem to get away from us.

What if politics went back to being about people’s voices being heard? What if politics was about standing up, telling the world what you truly, deeply believe and then letting them choose? What if we stripped away the layers of speech writers, spin doctors and campaign planners to get to the heart of the candidates? What if a politician could say what he or she truly believed without regard to how it would effect a certain block of voters? What if politicians looked at us as people, not as votes?

I think life would be better. Running for office would be about discussion of what people really need. It would askew our current system of talking points and spin for one of truth.

Will this ever happen? Probably not. If someone where to run like that, it would either be a breath a fresh air leading to a landslide victory or that person would crash and burn because they would be entering a system not designed for that much honesty. Most likely they would crash and burn. And we all know if you crash and burn once, it hurts your chances for winning in the future.

Dang it. There we are at winning again.

So what do we do about it?

We run. We run like crazy. We run for president. We run for mayor. We run for dog catcher (do they still elect those anywhere?). We run.

And then we crash and burn. We lose because we don’t worry about offending people. We lose because we are honest. We lose because we don’t fit in the system. But that’s ok, remember? We weren’t running to win anyway.

Then maybe, just maybe something crazy will happen and someone will be elected while running like this. Then what? Who knows?