THE 5 RING CIRCUS (part 1 )

I do look forward to the day when I shoot enough weddings and such that my blogs will be about the loving bride and the adoring groom with pictures included and I am established enough to teach and share with others and help them along the way, as I have been helped by other photographers.  But until that time, it’s pretty much write about what I am interested in  So this week, my interest, along with so many others, is the Olympics.  I thought I would look back at the previous Olympics and share some of the moments I remember that made me jump up, give a fist pump, chant USA! USA! USA! and get that lump in my throat when I hear The Start Spangled Banner.

1968-Mexico City.  I didn’t watch those games.  For starters, the games didn’t start until October 12th.  I was 17, high school by day, work at night, wondering what I was going to do after high school,  who I was going to the prom with and hoping I wasn’t going to be drafted.  The most outstanding performance mark was Bob Beamon’s 29′ 2.5″ long jump.  Politically this was the Olympics that featured John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s Black Power Salute on the awards stand.

1972-Munich.  Mark Spitz won 7 golds in swimming.  He then made that poster of him wearing his 7 medals and a Speedo. The girlfriend at the time, “why dont’ you look like that?”  Response, “hey, I’m a lineman.”  Olga Korbut wowed the world in gymnastics.  Unfortunately these games had a pall over them because of the massacre of the Israeli track team.

1976 Winter Olympics – Innsbruck. Watched these with the wife on a black and white 12 inch tv.  Dorothy Hamill and her haircut figure skated her way to gold.  We eventually saw her live at the Ice Capades.  One of the top performances I have ever seen is  Austria’s Franz Klammer’s gold medal run in downhill skiing.  He was the last one to ski that day.  The condition of the course was terrible.  Klammer threw himself down the hill to win the event.  It is, to this day, the most reckless downhill run I have ever watched.  It looked like at any moment  he would fly off the course into the abyss.  I rewatched it on Youtube and I still got goosebumps watching his effort.

1976 Summer Games – Montreal.  Shun Fujimuto was a Japanese gymnast.  During the floor exercise he broke his kneecap.  Shun still had two more events to go.  He did the pommel horse and then the rings, dropping 8 feet to the floor to stick a perfect landing, broken knee and all, and secure the gold medal for Japan.  Nadia Comanici shocked the Olympic world by being the first gymnast to score a perfect 10.  She also confused people by pronouncing her name a different way each time a reported asked.  Her floor routine was set to the opening music from “The Young and the Restless”, which then was renamed “Nadia’s Theme” and released as a hit record.  Bruce Jenner won the decathlon for the United States.  At the end of his last race, someone came up and put an American flag in is hand that Jenner carried with him on his victory lap.  Jenner later had his picture put on the Wheaties box and he made a commercial for the cereal.  Later, Saturday Night Live parodied this commercial.  In their version they filmed a fat John Belushi doing the same events that appeared in Jenner’s commercial.  Then Belushi is at his dining table, smoking a cigarette and giving all the credit for his performance to his breakfast of “little chocolate donuts.”  Classic.  And in the Olympics of the entertainment world, Bruce is stepfather to Kim, Kloe, Kortney and Rob Kardashian.

Next:  the ’80s

Musical inspiration tonight: listening to the USA women gymnasts winning the Gold.

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MR. POSTMAN

I was going to write about some of the Olympic memories I have accumulated over the years, but that can wait another day.  I have time.  The Olympics last a few more days (sorry, too lazy to count) and that will either give the games more time to screw up or more time to right the listing ship.  Either way I will have more to write about.

The reason for the shift of topics is the arrival today of my brand new business cards.  To most, this would not be a huge deal, but for me, well, it is.  This is just another baby step in my evolving little photography business.  And as impressed as I was with the design when I saw it on the computer screen, I was doubly impressed holding the real thing in my hand.  I may not give them out to anybody.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I hired graphic designer Kimmie Carter to create this cards.  I want to give Kimmie one more shout out.  Great job, Kimmie!

Although not a long post, these one took a bit longer to write because I wanted to keep it short.  You should see how much stuff I edited out.  My musical inspiration tonight was “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, the GNR version and a few covers.  I sort of got hooked on this ukulele version of the song.  As one might suspect, it is a completely different song when played on ukulele and sung by a young woman.  I don’t think Axel is losing any sleep, however.

QUOTH THE RAVEN

I met Raven through her sister, Noel.  Noel was in my first period class my last year of teaching.  She gave me the nickname “Grumpy Gramps.”  What can I say?  I am not a morning person.  Coffee or no coffee.  Noel and I have kept in touch since she graduated so she is pretty well versed in my ambition to be a world renown wedding photographer.  In fact, she will be the assistant/second shooter at my first official wedding in August.  One day in April, I was pleasantly surprised when Noel asked if I would photograph Raven’s senior pictures.  I may want to be a world-famous wedding photographer extraordinaire, but at this point in my career I am seizing every opportunity to shoot a living, breathing human being.  Who knows, maybe my destiny is to become the world’s best senior portrait dude.

So I accepted the gig.

The nice thing is that Raven left everything up to me and my expertise.  The bad thing is that Raven left everything up to me and my expertise.  Senior pictures, as far as I remember, are taken in a studio with a couple of props.  But it seems now that senior shots go outdoors and are more like modeling shoots than just standard senior head shots.  I sat myself down at the computer and started researching the current trends in senior portraits.  I had long ago come to the conclusion that being a professional photographer was more that just “get yourself a business card and go shoot,” as some people had told me I should do.  (Perhaps that is why there is so much lousy photography and unhappy customers these days.  But that topic is for a different blog on a different day)  Today, I am not the photographer I will be tomorrow, but my clients deserve to have me be the best photographer I am on the day I shoot their session.  So a little research time for Grumpy Gramps, a little bit more practice on my camera, and it will be off to Raven’s session.

The shoot took place at Saguaro Ranch Park in Glendale.  Raven told me to pick a place, and this is the place that came to mind.   Saguaro Ranch Park is a dry and dusty place with old buildings and rusted out farm machinery.  In retrospect, I know I picked it because it was close to everybody, no charge to get in, and I figured Raven is going to be the star and she will make anything look good.  Ah, the hazards and pitfalls of inexperience.  Note to self, pick better places to shoot, doof!  Aside from my poor location choice, the session went wonderfully.  Raven and Noel’s mom showed up to the shoot and helped direct Raven in her poses and outfit changes and hair upkeep.  Noel also showed up to add her advice to the session.  Afterwards, we went over to their house to upload the images.  Mom and I spent the time talking about Apollo High School.  She had gone to school at Apollo at the time I started teaching there.  I never had her in class, but we knew the same students and the same teachers and the same rumors and stories about the school and had a great time reminiscing about those days.  And in spite of the less than ideal location, the session provided some very nice shots for Raven to choose from.  Also, as a result of posting some of these photos on Facebook, I have had some interest from other seniors in booking a session.  I have concluded that Senior Sessions are a wonderful addition to my business.  I can see the plaque now: “Grumpy Gramps:  The World’s Best Wedding, Birthday, Baby Shower and Senior Portrait Photographer.”  Just get some engagement and maternity sessions under my belt, and I could rule the world.

Blog note:  When I blog I stick in my earphones and go to my Itunes or Youtube and find some inspirational music to play loud, so that everything meets in the middle of my brain.  Crowds out distractions and helps my motivation and creativity.  These last two days I have been listening to the B-side of  “The Twain Shall Meet” by Eric Burdon and the Animals.  Bagpipes and sitars.  A great combination.

   

 

OF ARTISTS, ATHLETES AND OLYMPICS

The Olympics are upon is.  I don’t watch much of the opening ceremony except for the march of nations and the lighting of the flame.  Last night was a great show, and when Paul choked up on the opening of “Hey Jude”, well, I kind of choked up too.

An athlete I will be rooting for is Georganne Moline who is running the 400 meter hurdles in London.  I do not know Georganne personally, but she ran track for Thunderbird High School when I was the head track coach at Apollo High School.  Georganne was the best at what she did.  There goes Georganne, and then here comes  Apollo.  I swear she ran track for seven years at Thunderbird.  I would look at T-Bird’s lineup, see her name and ask, “didn’t she graduate last year?’  Georganne went to the University of Arizona on a track scholarship.  This year she qualified for the Olympics.  How exciting for her.  A tv station in Tucson did a little bio on her and I watched it yesterday.  They did a little interview with her, filmed her training  and weightlifting.  Georganne talked about how she hated track in high school when she first went out and almost quit.  She talked about how when she came to the U of A she couldn’t even lift the empty bar.  Now she was doing power cleans better than most guys do them.  I got to thinking about how much of a change there is for an athlete after he or she gets out of high school.  I don’t think anyone, not even Georganne, would have predicted her trip to the Olympics 3 years out of high school.  But sometime in the course of her track career, the switch turned on in her head and she drove herself to be the best she could be.  London Calling.

One of the athletes I thought of is Cindy LaCotta.  Cindy was an amazing young woman at Apollo.  She never missed a day of school in 12 years of school.  She had scholarships for everything.  She had me for art.  What an artist!  Every time I made an assignment she would come up to me and say “what should I draw?”  Then she would work 72 hours straight on some DaVinci-esque piece of art.  While at U of A she went for a summer to Italy with a professor to make drawings of an archeological dig.  Cindy also ran track for me.  The talent Cindy had in the classroom and the art room did not carry over onto the track.  She ran distances.  She always finished last or near to the last in a race.  But she never missed a practice and worked just as hard as anyone else.  She told me once she knew she wasn’t very good, but she liked the challenge, liked pushing herself.  A few years after Cindy graduated she came by to visit me.  She had started working in a bicycle shop, started dating the owner, and got into competitive bicycle racing.  She won or placed in enough races that she was qualified to race at a venue that would have led to an Olympic trial.  Unfortunately, an illness prevented her from competing.  I love Cindy’s story and have used it often when I talk to my track kids.  Most people in Cindy’s situation would have quit track.  I know many an athlete who basically quit because they lost a race, saying “if I can’t win, why race?’, missing the fact that it isn’t the winning, but the competing that counts, the doing the right things to make yourself better.  Cindy stuck it out in track for four years.  Then a few years later she found a sport that she loved, that inspired her, and she became the best she could be at that sport.  I have lost track of Cindy.  I know she and her husband run a bicycle club down in Tucson.  Maybe she will see this blog, call me up and ask, “what should I draw?”

The other athlete I thought about is Prince Amukamara.  Prince is yin to Cindy’s yang.  Prince is the best athlete I have ever coached in my 31 years of coaching.  Prince is also one of the nicest, humblest people I have ever met.  I could take up pages and pages giving examples of his quality of character, but I will just give you one example; with over 1,500 Facebook friends wishing him a happy birthday, he responded to each one with a personal post.  I don’t know very many other people who do that.  At Apollo, Prince garnered 3 state championships in basketball and 2 individual state championships in the 100 and 200  meter sprints in track.  He was the state of Arizona football player of the year his senior year.  I was fortunate enough to coach Prince in track and football.  His senior year in track was a bit iffy to start with.  He dropped a shower door on his foot and was hobbled most of the year, plus he had a little issue with his knee.  My able assistant, Dave Devlin, adjusted his training and rested Prince enough so that he dominated the 100 and 200 at state.  In football, I was Prince’s position coach on offense, the running back’s coach.  I told Prince “run where they ain’t.  Don’t fumble.”  Then I spent the rest of the time coaching the fullback on how to block.  But Prince was not without his detractors his junior and senior years.  “Prince doesn’t lift weights.”  “Prince can’t tackle.” “Prince doesn’t like to hit.” were some of the real or imagined faults that some people mentioned during Prince’s playing days at Apollo.  Some even said Prince would never make it in college.  Part of Prince’s image problem was that he was a merry prankster.  Although deep down he took football very seriously, outwardly he was happy-go-lucky and appeared to not take things seriously.  This rubs some people the wrong way.  I do remember talking to Prince during his last track season and telling him that things were going to be different in college.  Coaches won’t have a sense of humor, and everyone there is as good as you are.  I doubt that this even made an impact on Prince, or even if he heard it, but I like to think it was the advice that made his career.  And just like Georganne and Cindy, things fell into place for Prince to become the best he could be.  Prince not only excelled in football at the Nebraska, but was the number 1 draft choice of the New York Giants as a defensive back.  He missed the first part of the season with a broken foot, but on his first play in the NFL he recorded an interception.  He was on the field, playing defense for New York when New England was making his final drive.  Prince, the player some felt would never make it in college football, now has a Superbowl Ring.  There is a shot in Sport’s Illustrated of the end of that Super Bowl, a long shot taken from the end zone.  It shows everyone running around in total excitement, and in the end zone is Prince, a devout man of faith, on his knee, thanking God for the victory.  Prince, I am proud of you and glad I got the chance to coach you.

I think this is one of the reasons I like the Olympics.  It is the best of the best of the best in sports.  When I watch the parade of nations it is exciting to see the joy in the eyes of all the competitors from all the countries.  Yes, I will chant USA with everyone else when the time comes.  I will get a little teary eyed when they play the Star Spangled banner during the medal ceremonies.  But I believe you have to honor all the athletes.  All of them represent the best that each country has to offer.  And this is what I like about the closing ceremonies.  Seeing all the athletes together, all the pins and souvenirs exchanged, the smiles, the brotherhood and sisterhood and human-hood on display.  I’d say the following article sums up the spirit of the Olympics.  The  Olympics are about this lady, Nur Suryani Mohammed Taibi and her competition in these games.

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/olympics–pregnant-shooter-s-olympics-end-after-34th-place-finish-in-qualifying.html

I am also  leaving you with two more links.  The first is for the news special on Georganne Moline.  The second is for the “Fanfare for the Common Man”, a song that will make brushing your teeth feel like an Olympic event.  Happy Olympic watching.

http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/19104276/olympian-profile-georganne-moline#.UBHwI_I-1tQ.twitter       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqyby2x4e7c

 

 

COACHING TRACK AND ROCKIN’ THE FOO MANCHU STASH LIKE THE DAD FROM ORANGE COUNTY CHOPPERS.

 

BYE, BABY BUNTING

I am a bit old-fashioned.  It just seems an easier way to live.  Less things to fill the mind with.  But don’t think for a moment I can’t or won’t come up to modern times when it is to my benefit.   It is a brave new world out there, Timmy and sometimes you just need to go out and see what’s going on and adapt.  Dinosaurs are dead, doncha know.

Take for instance baby showers.  To me and other men of my generation, baby showers were some sort of hidden, mysterious, secret ceremonies that men were not invited to, yea even forbidden to go to.  If a man snuck into a baby shower and was caught, unspeakable things might happen to that man.  A lifetime of being read to and spoon-fed.  But truthfully, I must say I knew none of my  male buds that wanted to go.  It was like, get the wife out of the house so I can watch the tv shows I wanted to watch.

A few years ago I was coaching JV football.  One of my assistant coaches came up to me at the beginning of practice and said “Coach, I gotta leave practice early.  You remember Tom?  Well, I am going to his baby shower.”  Mike had played for me and was one of the toughest players that I had  ever coached.  He went on to play football at the University of Arizona.  Yet  here is this tough, rugged man telling me he is going to a baby shower.  “Mike,” says I, “real men don’t go to baby showers.  What are talking about?”  “Coach, I hate to tell you, we do now.  It isn’t an option.”  My other assistant, Justin, who is the same age as Mike, verified this fact.  “It’s what guys have to do now, Coach.”  Justin said.  Like the wizard named Tim in the “Holy Grail” I wanted to warn them, tell them not to go, that it was a trap and foul things awaited them.  But sanity and common sense grabbed ahold of me.  If Mike left early, I could conclude practice early and go home early.  I said nothing negative and wished him well.

My third official shooting session was  a baby shower.  When I had shot Emma’s birthday, I met Denise, who is Emma’s aunt.  So I was invited to shoot her baby shower.  I felt like an undercover agent.  Not only was I going to a baby shower, I was going to record it.  The dark veil of secrecy was about to be pulled off of the happenings at the baby shower.

Change can be a good thing.  Letting the daddy come to the shower is a great change.  As I was snapping pictures I could see the excitement in Denise and Dave’s eyes, and in the eyes of their other children as they played games, ate, and opened baby gifts together.  After all, this is a family affair.  Why not share the excitement and fun of the baby shower together?

I don’t like change, but in this case I can honestly say, this change is a good thing.

My thanks to Denise and David, David’s mom Lori and Tia Hillary for allowing me the opportunity to document that special time in your lives.

The title for this blog comes from a Mother Goose nursery rhyme.  It first appeared in 1784.

Some of these old-time nursery rhymes have a dark side.  The following is from the end of the rhyme.

Bye, baby bumpkin
Where’s Tony Lumpkin
My lady’s on her death-bed,
For eating half a pumpkin.

    

    

FREE DAY 7/26

One of the activities I have been encouraged to try by those I am taking advice on this new career is the writing on the blog for 30 days straight.  So far, the blogs I have written have been long, in-depth, with great purpose, and with a humorous voice.  That type of blog seems like an impossible to write on a daily basis.  So I decided to borrow from my early days of teaching.  It was called a free day.  At my first school many teachers gave the kids a free day in class every Friday.  Don’t fret, that practice soon went out of fashion.  However, having finished my career teaching where most time in the classroom is spent on teaching to the test, I would contend that the kids were learning just is much, or more, when they had a free day.  I have no evidence to back that up, it is just my own opinion.

So I am appropriating the title Freed Day for a written blog that really has no purpose or message other than to write the blog.  Mostly general observations of the day.  When I taught English, journaling was the big thing.  One thing we told kids was if you don’t know what to write, just write that.  “I don’t know what to write.”  Fill up the page.  I won’t subject you to that.

This day had a couple of highlights.  First was I contacted the bride of my first shoot, Mallory.  Since this is all new to me, every thing I do with regards to photographing my first wedding is new, fresh and exciting.  I like it, but I can’t wait for the comfortable feeling that comes with the routine.  Thinking back to my first year as a varsity football coach at Apollo High School, I remember how nervous I was before the first game of my varsity football career.  It was a heck of a year for Apollo.  We made our one and only appearance of Apollo in the state championship game against St. Mary’s  We won the game for the first 46 1/2 minutes.  Unfortunately, the game was 48 minutes long and we lost a heartbreaker.  But during that season I was a nervous wreck before games.  I couldn’t eat.  I had several rituals  I did before every game, including banging my head on a locker sometime before the game.  The day of the state game there was one ritual I did not do before the game.  I am convinced to this day that is why we lost

Quite a contrast to my last year of coaching.  Gone were the rituals, the inability to eat, the banging the head on lockers (hey, a man only has so many brain cells)  I would usually take a nap, sleep like a baby and grab something to eat right before the game.  Apollo had a great year that year, too.  9-1 and lost in the second round of the state playoffs.  I do not blame the loss on not following a silly superstition.  The opposing team had Superman playing for them.  I couldn’t figure out how to stop him, unless it was to trip him on the way out of the locker room at halftime.  That last year I was still as excited about coaching the game as I was that first year.  But at the end there was a calmness that comes with confidence and experience.  I am anxious for that time to come in my photographer career.

The other highlight of the day was my friend Dave called and suggested we meet.  We went to Gallagher’s, had lunch and played the bar trivia game on those little game boxes.  Back in the day, about 15 or so years ago, when bar trivia was quite the rage, Dave and I were a rather formidable team.  The game was played against bars all over the country.  Our login name was Trax.  There were several games where Trax had the highest score in the nation and was ranked #1.  The wife of a fellow teacher was a flight attendant.  One night in Kansas City, she was at a bar that was on the trivia game network.  She looked up at the TV screen and saw #1 Trax, Famous Sam’s 29  Phoenix,AZ.  She tells everyone at the bar she knows that she knows us. Good times.  No, correction, great times.

FREE DAY! CIRCA 1981

I AM NOT SLEEPING, I SWEAR.

IT WAS CASUAL FRIDAY.  SERIOUSLY.

“TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS”

“Mark off your calendar,” George said, “for July 23 and 24.”  It was early July when I received this phone call.  George is my best friend, my bro, bff, someone I would die for, although I would think hard about it.  I have known George since the first grade.  We went to high school together, attended Azusa Pacific College, were on the football team together and were roomies for the first year.  He got married after that first year.  I was his best man.  He was my best man at my wedding a few years later. My first official wedding photographer job is his granddaughter’s wedding in August.  George and I have stomped the earth together and shook the pillars of heaven off and on these last 50 some odd years.  He resides in Flagstaff with his family.  His work commitments and mine have kept us from getting together as often as we would like to.  So it is always good when George can get away and come down to the valley and visit.  Usually, though, his motis operandi is to let me know about a day or to in advance.  I was surprised he was giving me a good two weeks notice.  The conversation continued, “We are going on vacation, I’ll be back Saturday, rest up  little on Sunday, come down Monday and go home on Tuesday and then it’s back to work.”  I told him I would clear the decks on those two days.

About a week or so after this conversation, I was up at the crack of some ungodly hour in the morning checking websites.  On the Arizona Photographers’ Group I saw an upcoming event called “Learn from My Experience with special guest Melissa Jill.”  I looked at how many were attending there was only 2 people signed up.  I was, like, “score one for the Pooleman!”  Melissa Jill is a local professional wedding photographer ( http://www.melissajill.com/).  I have been actively research photographers’ blogs and websites in order to gain more insight and knowledge about this profession I am getting into.  Although I didn’t invent the saying, I do believe to be the best one learns from the best.  Her website and blog are impressive.  Melissa Jill also has workshops, coaching sessions, templates and blogs dedicated to helping other photographers become better at their art and business.  Her next local workshop was tentatively in January of 2013 so I had already penciled in that date.  Needless to say I was excited that before the big wedding shoot I would be able to hear Melissa Jill talk about wedding photography.  On Monday.  July 23rd.  There’s a penalty flag on the field.  Call back the touchdown.  Take the points off the board.

Of course I would have other opportunities to see George, and other opportunities to hear Melissa Jill as well.  But despite all my faults, I am loyal to those I consider friends, so I did not push the RSVP button for the MJ talk.  There was always January.

Sunday, July 22nd, I decide to call George and confirm all the details for Monday.  Basically, George said without actually saying it was “oops, I forgot I was coming down on Monday.”  They were still on the road coming back from vacation.  They had decided to take a detour to Yosemite and stayed a few days longer than they had intended.  Then George asks if I had skipped something else in order to clear the day for him coming down.  I was going to say no, but I hesitated just enough to make him say “I did, didn’t I.”  Since they were on the road we hung up quickly so he could concentrate on driving with the promise he would call me the next day.

Not only was the touchdown called back, I got sacked for a safety on the very next play.

In all honesty, this was just a SMH moment in my life.  Although rare, there have been plenty of times in my life that two events occurred at the same time.  And usually it would be a time for celebration if one of the events cancelled, but in this case, the Melissa Jill presentation was full and there was a waiting list.  I went from too many choices to a person with nothing to do on Monday night.  Karma and irony all showing up unannounced and unwanted at my doorstep.  It is fortunate that all my years of coaching taught me this, that you play until the final whistle, you never know when a break will come your way.  So I put myself on the  Melissa Jill waiting list.  I will see what tomorrow brings. Tomorrow never knows.

At about 2:30 Monday afternoon I got an email telling me that enough room had opened up so I was now on the list of attendees to the Melissa Jill event.  Clock is running out, the ball is fumbled and recovered for a touchdown.  The good guys win!  I was so happy I even decided to cut in half the time I was going to make George feel guilty for forgetting that he was coming to visit.

Hearing Melissa Jill speak was a real treat.  She rocked a lot of knowledge on Monday.  I went away with some business ideas I will be putting into practice.  What was really a hoot to me was finding out she and I went to the same university.  APU forever.  Which reminds me, I need to call Azusa to update my alumni status.

In the scheme of things, this is just a funny little story about some plans I made.  If I had to do it over again, I would have RSVP’d  the meeting and cancelled the day before.  Would have saved some of the anxiety, but then I wouldn’t have an amusing story to share, would I?  I borrowed the title for this post from John Lennon song “Tomorrow Never Knows”.   Think about it.  All we have is the now, the moment, and our memories, which are mostly confused and selective at best and those memories differ from person to person.  Just a few minutes ago, my wife was adamant that we had been to Tombstone, Az together.  I have never been to Tombstone in my life, yet she actually told me she was going to prove me wrong.  I am sure everyone has had an experience where you and another person remember a shared experience differently.

Finally we all share the possiblities of tomorrow.  We can predict, we can plan, we can prepare, but none of us knows what will happen.  Fill in your own story of what has happened to you or other people that has altered the course of their tomorrows.  The only constant about tomorrow is the unexpected.

AZUSA PACIFIC FOOTBALL 1971 SEASON.

GEORGE (far left) #53                          ME (far right) #63

“Tomorrow Never Knows” is one of my favorite Beatles tracks.  When “Mad Men”  used it on one of their shows this year I jumped out of my chair and did a fist pump.  Good choice, “Mad Men”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spjcPS4ekOA

“DEAR DIARY”

Every one of the professional wedding photographers that I have researched have all talked about the importance of doing a blog.  These folks have also mentioned that for months, they were convinced that only their parents or spouses were the only ones reading their blogs.  Now they are well-known, charging a gazillion dollars to shoot weddings and every blog has plus 20 responses telling them how cute and clever and wonderful said photographer is.  And trust me, I am not mocking their success, I aspire to that level!

But for right now, writing a blog is kind of like writing a diary, or journaling.  I am basically writing for my own amusement and satisfaction, but with the understanding that at anytime someone might glance a quick peak at my musings.  And so far it has been great fun.  The few people who have read my blog, I think I am still counting how many on one hand, have all responded positively, which is very encouraging, and trust me, I don’t need much encouraging to blather on about myself.

I have also been working on my post editing of pictures.  Pretty much every picture seen on this blog is minimally edited, limited mainly to cropping and some minor color adjustment using the software that came with my Canon.  After having attended a mini-workshop on Lightroom I decided it was time to  make the purchase.  I had done a 30 day trial when it first came out, but it was not very intuitive about how to use it, so I never did.  The workshop answered enough of my questions for me to decide to give it a go.  The first picture I wanted to re-edit was a picture of Van and Duc cutting their wedding cake.  I had posted this picture on my Facebook Poole Photography page and my website.  But it was poorly cropped and the white wall reflected the flash from my camera.  I went into Lightroom, re-cropped and got rid of the glaring white spot and came up with a decent picture.  My next step was to replace the clunky one with the newer version on all my sites.  Got Facebook and the website done, time for the blog.

On Wednesday, July 18, I opened my blog, went to my login, typed in my email, and…I couldn’t login.  I thought maybe I forgot my password, so I entered my email to recover my password, and WordPress told me that they had no blog site  registered to that email.  What?  I had just gotten emails from WordPress as late as Tuesday.  After trying to unsuccessfully login about 20 more times, and figuring out that nothing is changing, I  attempt to get into WordPress support.  The problem is, I can’t get into WordPress support unless I login.

I finally hit on an idea to try one of my other email addresses.  Success, sort of.  My other address got me into my first blog I had tried with WordPress, but had cancelled out.  And I still could not get into my current, much beloved blog.  But I could get into support.  Now I am used to companies that some type of direct access like an email address, or a toll-free number.  No such luck with WordPress.  I have to submit a question to the Forum, and wait for other WordPress users to give me an answer.  Well, that is the WordPress business practice, and that is their right, and I’ll play along.  However, it doesn’t work fast enough for my taste.  So after 7 hours or so of no answers, I asked my question again.  And again.  And then I finally get answers, the last answer being that I had already asked this question twice before and the thread was closed to anymore comments.  The only post I was getting answers on was now closed.  By now it is Friday.  I am not enjoying blogging anymore, and I am not impressed with the fact that answers to my problems are being handled by anonymous people who may or may not be interested in helping me or even have an answer for me.  Undaunted, I ask my question again.

The next answer I got from someone was that I had asked this question 4 times and that I was confusing people by posting so much and that they were flagging my question for the “staff”, and to be patient because it was Friday.  I thanked this person, even though I felt there was an underlying tone of snarkiness in the reply, for their help and for referring me to staff, which is all I wanted to happen in the first place.  I made up my mind to let it rest for the weekend.

SUNDAY, JULY 22, 2012.  I SOLVE THE PROBLEM MYSELF!

In your face, staff!

Back to Monday, July 16th I went to an Arizona Photography Group meetup about owning a photography business.  One of the suggestions was to make the business email reflect the business domain name.  This sounded like a great idea.  On Wednesday, July, 18, I went to GoDaddy and set up an email account using my domain name, timpoole@poolephotographystudio.com.  On Sunday night I thought I would check in with WordPress to see if anyone had answered  my question.  Then an idea hit me, I mean a serious, draw the lightbulb above my head idea.  When WordPress asked for my email to login, I used the timpoole email.  Shazaam!! I’m an in.  Cue the music and let fly the doves, I am in!

I am not a technology guy, by choice or by laziness, I am not sure.  All I can say for certain is that the changes I made to my email at GoDaddy were also made at WordPress.  And before the 6th reader of my blog comments and tries to explain why that happened, I will tell you now that I don’t care.  I just want to drive the car, I don’t need to know how it works.  But I was impressed, and hurt my arm patting myself on the back, that I eventually logically deduced a solution to my problem.  Yay me!

So with a smile on my face, a diet Coke on my right and the two cats on my left, I happily went to work on my blog uploading the newly edited wedding cake cutting picture.

My WordPress blog site would NOT upload my photographs!

As can be seen, the uploading of pictures is working today.  I have no clue why it is working today and not yesterday.  I did post my problem to the forum and as of this morning, I had not one answer or post regarding the problem of not being able to upload.  Computers are a great thing when they work, but sometimes, just like my back, computers get cranky.  There is an old joke where you put you hand on someone’s head and start squeezing the head and ask “what it this?”  The punchline is “a brain eating alien starving to death.”  This picture reminds me of that joke.  If the brain eating alien needed technology knowledge to stay alive, that sucker is dead.

A BLIND MONKEY

I am not making it a secret that I need to continue to improve my photographic skills.   I look at my portfolio and at best I would give it a C+, and it only gets the plus because I am teacher’s pet.   I look at the websites of photographers who charge $4,000-$10,000 minimum to shoot a wedding and see the photographs and go “wow!”  I wonder if I will live long enough to get that good.  I sit and think seriously about giving this up, selling my equipment and checking out that Wal-Mart greeter gig.

One of the first lessons I taught my students was the difference between taking a picture and taking a photograph.  I used the clever, in my opinion, analogy of a blind monkey coming in the room and if that monkey found a camera and  pushed the shutter release button, the blind monkey will have taken a picture.  Then I spent the rest of the year trying to get them to take photographs.

This leads me to my personal blind monkey moment.  I had been shooting some self portraits and had the camera timer set to 10 seconds.  A couple of days later, I went on a photowalk attempting to shoot some deep and shallow depth of field photos.  Got my settings, composition, and lighting I wanted and pushed the shutter release and….nothing.  So I start looking the camera over and then I hear the click of the shutter.  Yes, you figured it out.  I had forgotten to change the 10 second delay.  So I looked at my screen to see what I had actually shot.  The blind monkey in be had shot a picture of my Canon camera strap.

I shared the above story and posted the on my Poole Photography Facebook page. (Shameless self-promotion spot www.facebook.com/poolephotography51.  Hey, I spent a lot of time putting it together)

According to the statistics Facebook puts together, that picture has had 200 views.  The next highest photograph on that site has had 50 views.  About 10 people have read this blog and less than that have looked at my website.

So I think about the hours I have spent taking pictures, editing pictures, tying to elevate my results to the place I want them to be, choosing the best ones to post on my sites.  And it all comes down to the most viewed picture being the one the blind monkey took.

The sound you hear is me dusting off the Wal-Mart application.  Just in case.

DREAMING THE DREAM

I will admit that this whole blogging/website activity has me a little vexed.  I spent an hour and a half updating my website, (shameless promotion alert)  www.poolephotographystudio.com tonight.  I have no problem with the uploads, but I did have a bit of an issue with the writing.  I decided I hated what I had written in the “ABOUT” section of the site so I erased it with the intention of writing a witty, clever introduction about myself.

All I got accomplished was staring at my photograph for an hour.  I did decide I need a new photograph.

My problem is threefold.  I hate clichés and I hate sounding like everyone else, and I hate stereotyping or pidgeon-holing myself.  The advice from others in the business is to be yourself, people want to know you, they want to like you and other such sage pieces of wisdom.  All great advice, and it is advice that works for many people.  But if  I really followed that advice, I would write “hey, I’m taking pictures now and would love to do your wedding.  Look at the work I’ve done and see if we are a match.”  In fact, I am going to put that on my “ABOUT” page.  It’s the first spontaneous truth I have come up with tonight!

And as for the blog, do I write everyday?  I could, you know, because I am my favorite subject, and I can ramble on about me for hours.  This might not be a bad thing, because the advice is to be myself on the blog.  This is supposed to be the behind the scene look at me and my business.  So maybe I should try that open and honest and spontaneous deal like I did above.  Ok, how about this:  I want to do something that has the potential for good money, I want it to be fun, and I want it to be something I am semi-good at, and I don’t want to be a Wal-Mart greeter.

So what does “Dreaming the Dream” have to do with any of this.  Stick with me, all will be revealed.

First, I want to share the with the reader the week I had this week.  Thursday I went to the Meet and Greet and Free Open Model Shoot as part of the Arizona Photographers Group headed up by Nick Pappagallo.  It is a great learning opportunity, at least it is for me, because studio lighting and posing are not my strongest areas.  I didn’t teach much of that, and certainly did not have the expensive equipment that was used that night.  They also have professional models there who are volunteering their time in exchange for being able to use your pictures, if they deem them as good enough, in their portfolio.  It is a win-win for everyone.  The meetup also had a seasoned photographer that was giving tips and advice on how to set up lighting and posing situations.  I took my pictures of model Cheryl Denise.  I sent her some of the  images.  Later she posted them, along with several other photos that were taken by other photographers that were there, on her Facebook page.  Let me say this, it was always a thrill to put a white piece of paper into the developer and see the image come out onto the paper.  I get that same feeling anytime someone other than me posts a picture I have taken.  (I just haven’t decided if it is cool to “like” that post or not. Haha)  Thanks, Cheryl, for posting the pics I took of you.  I look forward to us working together again in the near future.

On Tuesday, I met Kimmie.  Kimmie owns a couple of businesses.  One, called Fuzzi Bunnies, has handmade hair ties and bows for babies and kids.  The other does websites and other business type designs.  Kimmie is doing the design for my “Poole Photography” business cards.  One of my friends told me “Don’t do that.  You can design your own and get 1,000 for $10.00.”  Well, I don’t want to design my own business cards.  If I did, I would be a business card designer instead of an event photographer.  Nothing wrong with going first class.

It had a good time meeting with Kimmie.  We met for about an hour and a half, and maybe talked business cards for 20-30 minutes.  We filled up the rest of the time with good conversation.  We talked about our cats, who look remarkably like each other, we talked about a couple of mutual friends we have, how she ended up in Arizona, my teaching career and a whole bunch of other chit-chat.  But Kimmie’s eyes really lit up when she talks about her newest business venture, her newest passion, which is designing her own jewelry.  She shared with me the designs she has so far and some of the details she has in the works for making her dreams a reality.

Kimmie also helped me with some business questions and rocked some great knowledge in that area.  And as of tonight, I am happy to say, she sent me the first and second drafts of the designs she came up with.  There are 4 really great ones that are going to be tough to choose from.  They have all been my favorite at least 5 times tonight.  I look forward to the her final design.  Thanks, Kimmie for the advice and your creativity on my cards.

We are now at the dream part.  And there was much rejoicing.  I never dreamt about school, except the night before school started, either at the beginning of the year or the night before we came back from a break.  And it was usually the same dream; I wasn’t going to school and I had neglected to schedule a substitute.  Since my retirement in May, I HAVE DREAMT ABOUT SCHOOL EVERY GOSH DARN NIGHT! The worse one was my dream that I was trying to decide between going back to work at Apollo, or going to work in a copper mine.  Where did that come from?

But last weekend I knew that things were looking up.  I experienced my first dream about shooting a wedding.  I know I woke up smiling.  I look forward to the day when the school dreams are pushed out entirely and the wedding dreams are rule rather than the exception.  In my dream of Apollo vs the copper mine, I remember I was really leaning toward taking the copper mine job.  If  the dream is between shooting a wedding or the copper mine, I know I will be humming “Here Comes the Bride.”

Links:  www.arizonaphotographersgroup.com  http://www.nicholaspappagallo.com/  www.facebook.com/cheryldenismodel  http://www.fuzzibunni.com