Having a little Facebook conversation with TaQuesha, a former student of mine.  She said I always told the most interesting stories in class, plus I had the best band-aids.  Students always needed bandaids during the year.  So I always had a box on hand.  At some point in time I figured that a teenager isn’t too far removed from childhood, so on a whim I bought a box of Hello Kitty band-aids. It got to a point where I started demanding to see a cut before I handed out a band-aid. The kids just wanted to wear them.  I eventually branched out to Batman, Spiderman, Spongebob and other popular cartoon characters.  All were popular, but Hello Kitty had a pretty good fan base with my female students.  They had shirts, purses, shoes, notebooks and other Hello Kitty merchandise that they wore or brought to school.  Out of curiosity, I did a little research on Hello Kitty.  Hello Kitty was introduced in Japan in 1974 and came over to the United States in 1976.  I was not aware the cute kitty with the red bow had been around that long.  Whenever I see a  Hello Kitty product, I am always reminded of those former students who were really into Hello Kitty paraphernalia.  In fact, there is a Halloween Hello Kitty beanie baby that if I was still teaching I would buy it and sit it on my desk with all my other Halloween decorations.

I never went overboard with decorations.  I usually just had a themed bowl with the appropriate candy for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter.  And no cheap candy for my classes.  It was Hershey’s, Mar’s, or the 6 lb bag of Tootsie Roll products.  I was always amazed how many kids liked Dots.  Those things stick to the teeth.  I guess somebody has to like them.

TaQuesha was also right about the stories.  I did like telling stories in class.  I think Q is being more than kind in saying they were interesting.  The important thing is I thought they were interesting.  My students were just a captive audience.  I sometimes see myself standing in front of the class like Maximus and shouting “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!!”

I miss many things about teaching.  Buying bandaids and telling stories is on the list.  I and the wife are a bit to sophisticated to wear Hello Kitty band-aids.  And the cats totally rebel against the idea of wearing band-aids.  Same thing withe telling stories.  Every year I would have a 150 new students to share my stories with.  My wife has heard them all, and the cats just get up and leave the room.  I think this blog may be a substitute for my story telling.  I hope the few people that read this find them as interesting as TaQuesha did.

On a negative note, I am a bit disappointed that TaQuesha did not include my many showings of William Shatner singing  Rocket Man as one of her favorite things in class.  Normally one can’t go wrong showing  the classics.

One may have noticed that I have changed my heading photograph.  The previous picture I had posted is one of my favorites, but I figured that if this is a blog designed to help attract and inspire potential brides to hire me to shoot their wedding, I should have a photograph that I have actually taken at a wedding as a lead photograph.

Closing thought for the day. This was my semi-cheat day on my diet.  Ate a pepperoni and pineapple pizza this evening.  I bet I will have some amazing dreams tonight.  I will be entertained!


Several of my former students have just gotten engaged.  I have offered my services to them as their wedding photographer.  They are even eligible for my “Former Student” discount.  It would be such an honor for me to photograph their weddings.  Seems like a “Circle of Life” type of experience.

Noel, my second shooter at my last wedding, got some great news a couple of weeks ago.  She has been accepted to the Disney College program for the spring and summer.  She is insisting I call her Princess Noel now.  This is such a great opportunity and I am really happy for her.

The future Disney Princess Noel




This is the setup.  There is always a setup.  Every so often I and my fellow photography teachers would be required to go to an inservice introducing us to the wonderful world of Photoshop.  I will admit that if I hadn’t been required to go, I wouldn’t have gone.  I just was not interested in learning Photoshop.  And to make matters worse, this was always done in a Mac lab rather than a PC lab.  The final straw was that the person teaching the workshop always started at a level that was way above my basic knowledge of Photoshop.  Teacher: “take your lasso tool..” Me: “what is a lasso tool?”  It would go on like this for a bit and then I would just disengage and start playing with the buttons to see what they did.  It was kind of like hi-tech doodling.

Although a child of the ’60’s, I never tried LSD.  As a freshman in high school we watched a film in biology about the evils of drugs.  In the film, there was this pretty young lady reaching out to pick a pretty blue rose.  But the rose ended up being the flame of a stove’s burner.  Pretty young lady had taken LSD.  Pretty young lady caught on fire.  Pretty young lady…no more.  I can’t speak for others, but that film pretty much ended my fleeting curiosity about drugs.  But as a child of the ’60’s I was, and still am, enamored of the surreal and psychedelic art and music of the time.  So eventually at the inservice, what I ended up doing was fooling about with the tools to see what kind of surreal and psychedelic images I could create with the software.  Although the following images are not from that inservice, these are representative of how I loved to play around with the photographs.

Perhaps I should have paid attention, but at the time I wasn’t teaching using Photoshop, I wasn’t planning on retiring anytime soon, and I had no plans on becoming a wedding photographer after I retired.  But I have retired and I photograph weddings and other events, so I have done what I have needed to do to get proficient at Lightroom and Photoshop.  If I absolutely need to learn something, I apply myself with laser like focus and intensity.  Otherwise, just call me Mr. Techno-doodle.

I related the above story as a set up to allow me to introduce the reader to  one of my all time favorite photographers,  Jerry Uelsmann.  Jerry Uelsmann is the master of the photo montage.  And he does all his work  in the darkroom.  There is no Photoshop involved in his work.  No lasso tool, no layers.  Just multiple enlargers, planning and hard work.  His work can be checked out here.

This is a self portrait montage by Jerry Uelsmann

I think it is fantastic the amount of things that can be done to a photograph using sliders and buttons.  I just wanted to show people who might not be familiar with Jerry Uelsmann what is possible without the benefits of editing programs.

Blog posting music of the day:  After Bathing at Baxter’s by the Jefferson Airplane


The Photographers’ Adventure Club was having a spirited discussion on Facebook about the difference between a snapshot and a photograph.  This is a great question and not easily answered because so much of what we see  and enjoy photographically  is so subjective in nature and reallydefined by that old saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

As a professional photographer, I have to keep in mind that everyone else is a photographer, too.  The only requirement is a camera.  Thought is not a requirement to capture an image.  Face it, if the monkey in “Hangover II” can be taught to light up a cigarette, he can be taught to take a picture.   To be a professional means learning and working beyond the basics of picture taking and grasping and practicing those techniques that elevate our photographs above and beyond being a snapshot and into a higher realm of aesthetics and beauty.

When I was teaching photography, my introduction to the course was about how the class would be taking them on this journey from snapshot taker to photographer.  I don’t intend to try and cram a year’s worth of instruction in this tiny little blog, but I would like to share a couple of ideas that are a important for a photographer to keep in mind.

Composing and cropping.

One of the first rules I was taught was to compose the picture in the viewfinder.  Remember that with an SLR camera everything you see in the view finder will show up in the image.   I remember many of my students on their first shoot would be surprised that the person they whose picture they took was swallowed up by the admin building at school.

Composing in the view finder basically helps you get rid of all unnecessary and unwanted items in your image.  Getting rid of all that useless information helps emphasis the subject matter.  No distractions.  I often refer to it as “cropping in the view finder.”

This is not as easy as it sounds and takes constant practice and awareness to do this on a consistent basis.

Cropping in the view finder, however, does not mean that you have eliminated the need for cropping in post editing.   Cropping when editing is a legitimate way to get rid of unwanted information and space and to tighten up the composition of the picture.   But remember, every decision you or I make with our pictures are based on what our vision is for that particular image.  Here is a cropping that I did on my last wedding.

This is the original shot.  I know some photographers would have left this as is.  For me, there was too much wasted space in this picture that distracted from the lovely newlyweds.

This was my edit.  A much cleaner and tighter picture.  Emphasis where it should be.  The bride and groom are not competing with the bricks.

I hope this gives a bit of insight to my thought processes in regards to composing and cropping.

Just remember, that the more cropping and composing that is done in the view finder will mean less time editing.

Blog Post Songs: Gimme Shelter, Cowboy, Chest Fever  and others


I always got a bit of a thrill whenever I put a piece of photo paper into the developer and watched the image slowly appear on the blank, white paper.  If you have printed in the darkroom, you know what I am talking about.  It gets tedious and complicated, but it is real hands on and I always got a sense of accomplishment after a good day of printing.  Don’t get me wrong, digital has its own rewards and frustrations and I am still learning and improving.  Developing a print is just something special.  I always looked forward to the reactions of my students on the day I demonstrated print developing.

Semi celebrating an anniversary of sorts.  It’s been around a year since I started seriously pursuing my business as a professional photographer.  October 3rd, 2011, was my first class with Diana Steffen on how to use my brand spanking new digital camera.  Excellent class.  I highly recommend.  Since that time I have been privileged to shoot several events over the course of the year.  Now this may sound silly to you, but I am pleasantly surprised when someone posts one of my photographs of them as their Facebook profile picture.  In fact, to be honest with you, the first time it happened, I think I sat at the computer for about 10 minutes, pointing at the screen and shouting  “Look!  Look!” for all to hear.  My cats were not impressed.  They didn’t look.

Two of my fellow retirees from Apollo High School semi have this tradition of going to the horse races on Friday afternoons.  On Friday, October 6th, Turf Paradise opened its’ racing season.  So naturally, we got together and spent a day at the races with a couple of other friends.   While sitting at the table, having some beverages and piling up losing tickets, a photographer in the employ of Turf Paradise stopped at the table and asked us if he could take our little group’s picture for the Turf Paradise Facebook page.  We all said yes.  I like getting my picture taken and published.  Unless you are in the witness protection program, everybody does.  IN fact,  I used to tell the yearbook editors at Apollo that the success or failure of their yearbook depended on how many pictures of me were in the yearbook.  (They didn’t believe me.  I believe one year they left me out altogether)  So today, Sunday, I get an email from on of the guys telling me to take a look at the Turf Facebook page.  And there we were! Our little group picture.  And a handsome group it is.

Other than the awesomeness of our little group, I thought the greatest thing was some lady posted in the photo’s comment section the fololowing:

 “I’m a junky for the ponies.. and the Vikings! Go Vikings!!!”


This is my bride Mallory’s Aunt Lindsey.  She used this photo to update her Facebook profile picture.  I am flattered and humbled that she like this shot enough to do so.

Chillin’ with Ruben, Steve, Cindy and Russ and Turf Paradise.


Blogging Music for the “Races”

Various and sundry love songs including “Holly Holly”,  “All My Little Words,”  “My Immortal,” and others on that playlist.


The medley of songs  on the B side of Abby Road was a collection of snippets of songs that the various Beatles had started, but never fleshed out into full blown songs.  Unfortunately, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and “Octopuses’ Garden” did get the full fledged treatment and ended up as full cuts.

So I am taking the “Abby Road” approach to my blog today.  Nothing is seriously driving me to write a six paragraph post today, so I have decided to just put in a few random thoughts that I have been thinking in the past few days and see if I can’t get a B side collage out of the ideas I post today.

First thing that comes to mind is that my friend Yessika suggested that I get a pocket digital recorder so I can record my thoughts as I think them. That way, I won’t have to wrack my brain to come up with the ideas I had a few hours ago.  I have two of the darn things.  My last few years at Apollo I read the names at graduation.  Part of my preparing for this task was to have seniors with difficult names speak into my recorder so I could practice on those names before the graduation ceremony.  Only had one real problem with it when the girl pronounced her name differently each time she said her name.  Otherwise it was a good system.  The reason I have two recorders is I lost one, bought a new one, then found the lost one the day after graduation.

I need to dig those recorders out.  When I was mall walking at Arrowhead today I came up with some brilliant things to write about.  But now I have absolutely no clue what I had come up with just a few hours ago.  All I remember is that I was going to use the phrase “fast forward to the present.”  I just wish I could remember where I put those recorders after my last graduation.

So I will just free associate for the moment and see what kind of mishmash of topics I can come up with.

I did notice one thing at the mall.  I could always go to the mall and see at least 2 or 3 students of mine.  As I now have no students, I saw nobody I knew.

If my photography business doesn’t get off the ground, I found the next job I want.  I want to drive the kiddie train at Arrowhead Mall.  I even have the engineer hat.

In the mall there is a barber shop that advertises face shaves, so I was reminded of listening to Barry Young on the radio the other day.  He and his producer were extolling the virtues of a barbershop shave.  According to them, a barbershop shave is the culmination of the American Dream.  Growing up I had always wanted to get one.  But somewhere in the late sixties, early seventies the blade and the shave went out of style.   I remember an article maybe 10-15 years ago talking about the only barbershop in Phoenix that offered face shaves, and the barber used a Bic disposable.  But happily for us guys, the face shave has become  popular again.  I actually got my first ever face shave completely by accident.  My track team was going up to Prescott to compete.  We were leaving around 11:00, so I went in to Twins Barber Shop to get a haircut.  The gal asked if I would like a shave.  I said yes and the addiction began.  Not only was it the culmination of the American Dream, we went to Prescott and whipped up on them in the track meet.  It had to be the shave!  (OK, and some really, REALLY good athletes)  Since that time I have included as often as possible the face shave when I get my haircut.  Now there are plenty of establishments around the valley that offer face shaves as part of their service.  If you are in the Chandler area, Hillary at Floyd’s offers a great face shave.  Of course I must highly recommend the young lady that currently does my haircut and shave, Vonn.  If you haven’t had a face shave before and want a great experience, make an appointment with Vonn.  Experience the American Dream for yourself.

Unfortunately guys, the face shave as also succumbed to inflation.  On the other hand, minimum wage around this time was  $1.00 an hour…

Finally, I decided to post a couple of pictures of the older cat, Hillary.  Named after the mountain climber, not Hillary Clinton, who said she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who didn’t climb Mt. Everest until after Secretary of State Clinton was born.  But in politics, as long as the information is close, it doesn’t necessarily have to be accurate.  Back to my cat.  I like taking pictures of my cats.  I see all those cute pet pictures with the funny captions and think I could do that.  The problem is that my cats choose to be cute when I am nowhere near my camera.  And as soon as they see I have my camera, they run and hide.  The only time I seem to get a chance to take pictures of them is if I have flowers on the table.  Their interest in the flowers is more important to them than running away from the camera in my hand.

That about does it for my “Abby Road” blog.  I just have the urge to sing “Her majesty’s a pretty nice girl…”   Paul should have song THAT at the Olympics.

Surprisingly, my music to blog by was NOT “Abby Road”

I was listening to “Pawn Stars” on the History Channel


I had every intention of posting on this blog every single day in October.   All the adults tell me this blog will be the driving force behind attracting customers to my photography business.  Many of those same photographers took this 30 day challenge themselves.  Just call me Mr. Stick-To-It….NOT.  Blew off the blog after three days.

It is a little more complicated than that.  One of my former students, Yessika,  who is a blogger herself, gave me many suggestions for this 30 day odyssey.  (Apparently, if I was a character in “The Odyssey”, I would have died early in the story.)  I really appreciated all the great ideas she gave me.  However, I find it difficult to write about things that I am not a little bit passionate about.

Yessika did suggest that I find a way to incorporate my teaching in this blog.  I know other photographers do that.  I read their instructive blog posts when I need some further knowledge about photographing weddings and events.  So I thought that would be a great idea.  I could do something like “Techno Thursdays”.  Write a little educational post on every Thursday.  So I decided on a topic to teach and waiting until late Thursday afternoon and went out to shoot some photographs that I could use for Thursday’s educational blog.

Came back to my house and loaded the pictures into Lightroom.  After looking at them I decided that they did not accomplish what I wanted them to.  They really didn’t match the ideas that I wanted to discuss.  That may sound weird because I knew the ideas that I was planning on discussing, so one would think that I would shoot them correctly.  It is something I really can’t explain.  I am as mystified about that myself.

Finally I decided to leave the computer and go do two things: ponder about what I wanted to blog about instead of my educational post and watch the Cardinals go 5-0.  None of those things happened.

I am not a Cardinals fan, although I like them to do well as they are the hometown team.  So their loss did not bother me at all.  Not writing my blog bothered me a lot.  Not that there are a lot of people reading it, but it is the discipline of doing it and accomplishing the 30 day goal that is important to me.  But then I looked at the whole scheme of things.  God created everything in six days and on the seventh day he rested.  (As an aside, I often wonder what God did on his day off, but that is probably a  topic for another day.)  Do not think I am comparing myself to God, I am just applying a principle in this case.  I took a day off from the blog.  It is OK.

So I got myself back on track today.  Recommitted to going thirty days straight.  I even revisited my photographs from Thursday.  They still aren’t what I need to do my little instructional blog, but they aren’t bad little photographs.  I am going to post a few.  I was working on backlighting, which mastering the subtleties of backlighting is extremely important to a wedding photographer because those backlit shots offer the most drama in a photograph.

Figure it is too late for Techno Thursdays.  Maybe it could be “Find Out Fridays”?

Fifty years ago today the Beatles’ first single, “Love Me Do” was released.

In honor of this day, all my blog writing songs have been Beatles’ songs.


I am not a do it yourselfer.  Yes I can do a few things if pressed to, like change a tire or paint a wall, but mostly I am just thoroughly inept when it comes to home and auto repairs.  Oh I have tried.    I have really tried.  But what takes a plumber a half hour to do takes me as long as it took Frodo and Sam to carry the Ring into Mordor.

Change out a garbage disposal?  Three days over Christmas break plus a tetanus shot.  Fix a leaky toilet?  The handle to turn off the water to the toilet broke off and the flood came.  Ran outside to turn the water off to the house, and that was broke as well.  It won’t turn all the way off.  On the bright side, I found out that anything can be fixed by duct tape.  While laying in two inches of water in my bathroom I wrapped half a roll around the the end of the pipe until no water leaked out.  Had to rent a wet vac and a fan for a couple of days to suck out all the water from my bathroom and hallway carpet.  And these are just a couple of the tales I lived to tell about.

But as Charlie Brown always goes back and tries to kick the football while Lucy holds it, I went back for just one more attempt at being Mr. Fix-it.

My truck’s antenna snapped off one day.  So I bought a replacement antenna.  It was short and made of rubber, easy to install and it worked really well.  I took the truck to get it washed.  The attendant took the new antenna off.  Unfortunately, he took the WHOLE thing off.  So water from the car wash poured down into the connection cable to the radio.  From that point on my radio sounded like it was underwater.  The water had ruined the cable.  The next thing that happened is that somewhere from that secret place in the brain that convinces you to do the dumbest things imaginable, this voice came to me and said, “you can fix this.”  It is a seductive voice, hard to say no to.  So I bought all the replacement parts and boldly rode “into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell

It was summer.  It was hot.  I was in the garage, contorting my 270 lb body into the front seat of the truck to get where I needed to go.  In spite of all that, it was relatively easy for me to disconnect the damaged cable from the radio.  Got out of the truck and proceeded to pull the offending cable out of the truck.  Holding the recently freed cable in my hand, I gazed at the hole in the front of my truck. A thought struck me.   Perhaps I should have tied some type of string to the cable so I could pull the new cable back through.  “O! Little Voice! If thou wouldst have spoken to me just a moment before I pulled, I would not be in this mess!”

“What you normally do in this situation is tie a piece of fishing line to the cable so you can pull the new cable back into the correct hole.” several people told me upon hearing the story of why I have a hole covered with duct tape where an antenna should be. I keep seeing horses running around as I rush to close the door to the barn.  Part of me believes that I could start unscrewing things and taking apart the dash and other areas of the truck, but I know that no good would come of it.  At the moment,  all I didn’t have was a radio.  Now was a good time to stop before the garage was full of truck parts that I could never put back together.

I blame all this ineptitude on my father.  He was the ultimate do-it-your-self-er.  The only thing he wouldn’t do was electrical because he electrocuted himself once and did not find it to be a pleasant experience.  So you would think that growing up with all that building and repairing going on that I would have a vast wealth of knowledge and experience at these things.  Nope, sorry.  All my father ever let me do was hold the flashlight.  And yell at me for not holding it correctly.  And maybe ask me to  pass a tool now and then.  So basically, when it comes to being a handyman around the house, I am good for anything that involves me holding a flashlight.  I am the bomb when it comes to flashlight holding.  I live for power outages just to show off my talent.

Please don’t misunderstand.  I do not feel that I was a deprived child.  I grew up learning how to draw and paint and take pictures, play the drums and the upright bass and pretty much explore any area of  arts and creativity that I wanted to. I am thankful I was given the opportunity and freedom to experience those things.  Just would have been nice to have a little bit of practical knowledge before I pulled that darn cable out of the truck.

The radio still does not work.  The CD player does, and I have a little tiny radio with an earphone to catch traffic reports when I am on the freeway.  Someday I will go somewhere and get my radio professionally fixed.  I don’t know why I haven’t done that yet.  Perhaps punishing myself for pulling out the stupid cable, or maybe too embarrassed to take it somewhere, who knows.  I do know that when I take it in to a shop and they ask what happened, I am telling them I bought the truck that way and I don’t know.

But let me tell you this, when it comes down to a final analysis, I do hold a pretty mean flashlight



* excerpt from “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred Lloyd Tennyson.

“Hold the Flashlight” Blog writing songs.

Devorzhum”  Dead Can Dance

A Little Help From My Friends”  Joe Cocker

“Swamped”  Lacuna Coil



Are you one of those people that get obsessed with a song and have to listen to that song over and over and over again until your parents’ ears bleed and they buy you earphones for a birthday present, even though it isn’t your birthday?  If this has happened to you, then we are kindred spirits.   Back in the day, it was not uncommon for me to come home with a brand new 45 rpm single, put it on the record player and let the song repeat until I had every lyric, nuance and drum fill committed to memory.

Back then I had the radio to sort of guide me as to the songs and music I might obsess over.  Today it is a bit tougher to find a new tune that catches my fancy.  My truck doesn’t have a radio (that story is for the “why I don’t do car repairs” blog post), the car either is tuned to  oldies or talk radio,  so there are very few sources for me to hear new and different music.  Fortunately for me, someone invented YouTube.

I have found YouTube to be a remarkable vehicle for finding old and new music.  I found a 1965 Waylon Jennings cover of the Beatles “Norwegian Wood”.  I got the joy of playing it over and over just like I did when I was a freshman in high school. (Yes, I had bought the single, but unfortunately I lent it to a friend who left it in his car.  If you don’t know about vinyl records, they melt when left in the sun.)  YouTube also had the complete album “The Twain Shall Meet” by Eric Burdon and the Animals.  Another lost vinyl from the days of my youth.  One of my first blog posts was written with that album playing in my earphones.  (some things never change).  The other great thing about YT is that I find some compelling and different covers of my favorite songs.  For example, while looking up Guns and Roses “Sweet Child of Mine”, I checked out a few of the uploaded covers.  I found a version of SCoM sung by a young woman playing a ukulele.  It was an incredible cover.  From Axel and Slash to this young lady’s lilting voice and ukulele chords.

Which brings me to my latest obsession.  The song “Annabelle” by the Duhks.  I was watching the TV show “Hell on Wheels” and this song was played over the final scenes of the episode.  It is such a haunting, lovely song.  I had never heard the song before, so after the show I immediately went to the computer to find out the name of the song.  My searching turned up that the song was “Annabelle” by the Duhks.  I immediately went to YouTube, but alas, there was no version of the song “Annabelle” by the Duhks.  There was one version by a Kate Goldman that was more uptempo than the song I heard on the show,so it didn’t have that same emotional appeal as the show’s  version of the song.

However, I found out a few days later that I was not the only person that fell in love with the song.  When I checked YouTube a few days ago there were five different uploads of “Annabelle” as performed by the Duhks, all with comments about how people had heard this song on “Hell on Wheels” and felt pretty much the same way I felt about the song.

So at this moment I am continuing the ritual of my youth.  I have put my earphones on, turned the volume up as loud as it goes, logged into YouTube and am listening to “Annabelle” over and over, learning every lyric and every nuance of this, my favorite song of the moment.