The Smallest Thing Can Mean The Most (you don’t fight with your friends, if you’re fighting with your friends… )

Greg & Scott Sampson

Greg & Scott Sampson

My most recent photo shoot with a motocross racer was a success. I was a little nervous going into this project for the simple fact that the racer had never really done a studio style shoot. And given the fact that I was not going to be just doing the standard portrait style of “say cheese and click we’re done.” While I was surely going to do those standard headshots as I always do, after all everybody can use a fresh headshot. This is also a way to break the ice and let the new model get a feel for the whole environment of the all the crazy flashing and softboxes ect. But soon I would move on to the creative lighting that I so crave and must create and get it done in a timely fashion. I don’t want to burn the model out, new or experienced it doesn’t matter; I want the person to go away feeling that working with me was a good experience and a fun time. This then lets me leave the shoot feeling very confident that if I need to reshoot or just work together again in the future that getting a “yes” will be almost a given.

So the little bit of nervousness that I was feeling was that I had high hopes this young man could take direction well. While most people can do what you ask of them, they do feel a little strange when I get into the creative mode and start asking them to do things that don’t really make sense at a standard photo shoot. Or at least it doesn’t really seem to match up with what they envisioned a shoot should be. Example; I ask the model to turn their back towards me and look over their shoulder. See, you must know that part of my creative technique is not really going into detail about what I’m doing. Not because it is a secret, but rather if I sit and try to explain what and why I’m doing something I am wasting both our time. They may not know an f/stop from a focus ring, so why bother. Most times they have seen my work and know it is not run of the mill and therefore I just say “it is creative so it may seem a little weird” and most times they’ll just roll with whatever I tell them to do.

But Greg was an ace, not only did he do as I asked, he pretty much nailed it. I only had to shoot each pose three clicks of the shutter. I always do three clicks because of eye blinks and the like. I got the feeling that he picked up on the vibe of what I was doing because the shoot flowed along rather well. I would shoot a few poses and we would review them together on my tablet and quickly move on to the next set of poses.

Now for the rest of the story… So this shoot was taking place in a garage bay next to the area where the motorcycles are worked on. When we started we were alone, but Scott who is Greg’s father soon arrived and wanted to see what we were doing. Now I have to tell you Scott has a look and presence that would make most nightclub bouncers cringe. He is an amazing guy I could tell, why just in the short time I was there I heard him speaking to other friends and family members and his words of wisdom were being felt and absorbed by everyone whether they knew it or not. I quote “you don’t fight with your friends, if you’re fighting with your friends… well then they are not your friends.” Hey the guy is dead on right as far as I’m concerned. Don’t let the ink fool you, I could damn well tell this man is a good leader, father and most likely that friend that would always be there for you. But with all that said, what are the chances of just getting him to step in front of the camera with his son? I want to do it and really I have to do it. Because I know truly how photography works. This photo is going to mean a lot to somebody. I know it, I feel it and… ah what the heck. So I say “hey Scott what da ya say… I want you to step in here and let me just get one shot with you and Greg and this awesome bike you built.” I had to ask twice and I could tell her really wanted to do it although he played it cool and seemed a little reluctant.

So like I said; the photo is going to mean a lot to somebody, but whom? Will mom like it? It is a nice father & son shot and the bike is a work of art as far as motocross bikes go. Or will it be a shot that will take on meaning as years go by and they look back at the “good ole days? Well the answer came a lot sooner than I had thought. I had sent Greg a few quick edits that were cropped for Instagram as he had requested. The photos made their rounds and then I see this on IG and I knew that this photo was really worth the world to somebody. It made me very happy to know that the photo touched them.

 

 

Sometimes the simplest photo means the world to someone.

Sometimes the simplest photo means the world to someone.

Work In Progress

Work In Progress

How Will You Pass on Your Digital Photos? (we don’t know all of what went on back then, but we do know they had awesome weddings.)

 

This is a topic that really is important to each and every person. Or at least anyone who has digital photos… and who doesn’t? Please take the time to watch this video and just think about it for a few minutes. There is no real “big” revelation of an answer. I came across this video some time back and could never find it again until I seen it in my news feed today.

I started with my first digital camera several years back (about 1999), a Hewlett-Packard 2 MP and I experienced problems just a year into my digital photography. At the time the small three and half-inch floppy disk was a standard means of storage. Well it was standard for me until I bought the next computer and it didn’t have a floppy drive, it only had CD drive. I remember a few computer geek friends of mine who got a good ole belly laugh and said “why in the world would you store anything on a floppy.” It sure made me feel like a dummy. But I also started to think “what if CDs go out of date?” And again I was laughed at. Then as time marched on we seen compact flash cards (my first digital camera had one), than SD, Micro SD, Thumb Drives and cut to present day and it is all about external hard drives and cloud storage. It all keeps changing and now people are laughing at those who still store on a CD. But meanwhile we still have the option to print and frame our photos… or hey, what about putting them in a photo album? At 50 years old I certainly remember how novel it was to visit a friend a see photo albums sitting under the coffee table in the family room and they were there for whoever wanted to see them. And if anybody dare laugh at printing photos today, well I ask you to talk to any wedding photographer and ask how important that bridal album is to the client? For a wedding photographer; aside from the agony of capturing the day’s events, there is most times the greater agony of that “album” to deal with.

Now because we have social media there is no need for an album under the coffee table… or is there? Photobooks I think would be a better option today than that old style album with the plastic sheets. But… photo-books can be costly. Again as you can see there really is no cut & dry answer to this topic. But personally I still lean towards prints. I can tell you that the DNG file, which is also called a “digital negative”, is a lossless format that was created by Adobe. The DNG is recommended by the Library of Congress as the standard means of archiving digital images. So therefore I think it is safe to say that computers & software will be able to always read DNG file format. But… hold on there a minute; did you even know what a DNG was before you just read about it here? Most in-depth photographers would know, but the average person might not know. Then ask yourself this question; If DNG is the so-called standard, why does my camera or better yet, all cameras not shoot a DNG file? And yes not all cameras shoot a DNG and that includes the cameras in most average mobile phones. Kind of confusing and again leading us back to the big question of; If we really… and I mean “really” love our photos and want to save them as our parents & grandparents did, we need to come up with a way to do this and not just talk about it.

Could there actually come a time when people of the future look back in time and see all those old paper photos that pre-date digital and have a big gaping shadow where the digital age started because there is no way to retrieve a vast amount of digital files? Where are digital files actually stored when we send them to the so-called “cloud?” Or let’s just get real crazy and ask; what if there is ever a weapon developed that can erase or destroy large amounts of digital files at one time? Sounds kind of outrageous and futuristic right? About as outrageous and futuristic as the nuclear bomb was just five years before it was built and used to destroy two cities, by virtually erasing them from the earth. I know that all seems a little farfetched in a conversation about photography, but let’s just really give thought as to how you want to pass your special moments of your life on to your next generation. It actually would be kind of funny if nobody did anything and there was a big gap in retrieving digital files in the future. They could all look back and think; “we don’t know all of what went on back then, but we do know they had awesome weddings.” Hahahhahaa.

As always, thank you for reading and have a great day.

Heading To Thailand for 28 days. (scenes from 2012 trip)

1/125 sec at f/5.6 ISO 100 200mm

1/125 sec at f/5.6 ISO 100 200mm

 

So what will I see on this trip to Thailand? I hope to see a lot of friends and family. But aside from that I hope to shoot some really nice HDR photography. I shot some HDR in 2012 and while it was very good and I was so pleased with my results, this year I have a much better camera body. The 6D will shoot at 50 ISO which is super clean. In addition to the camera I have learned even more about HDR and more about how to edit those nice images.

And I have other projects on my bucket list for this trek, one being some “long exposure” photography. I have a 10 stop Neutral Density filter that may come in real handy while I’m trekking around the islands. Oh yeah I’m getting excited just thinking about what I can do with that filter. I also have a Hoya 77mm R72 Infrared Filter that would be great to play with.

But there really is a goal to come back with some awesome images that will be specifically for use as backgrounds. These backgrounds will be used to create final images using the studio shots of models, Kendall Strampel & Cynthia Ann. Who knows I may not find anything worthy and have to look elsewhere?

Most of all I know I will capture images of interesting people and Thai culture. Village life is always fascinating, at least to me. Temples are fun for HDR too.

So I leave you with some images of my last trek to Thailand.

 

Are Real Photographers Still Needed? The guy driving his Porsche to work is a legend in his own mind, not a Formula One driver.

Seren at Graffiti Pier

Seren at Graffiti Pier

Part 1:

In our ever changing world of technology digital photography and social media has changed many things about when, where, why and how we take photos. Matter of fact I ask the question; are they really photographs? After all “photographs” were images that were on a special paper and we framed them for display or put them in photo albums for safe keeping and to go back and view from time to time. Today as a photographer I find myself calling them images rather than “photographs.”  So then I question; what does that make me? Am I an image maker and not a photographer anymore? It is really funny when you actually stop and think about it. Even with video now days, there is no video tape so most time I say “I captured video” rather than say “I recorded video.”

So with social media most times we view are photos or images on some sort of backlit device be it a phone, tablet or monitor. This makes me question; is there still a need for a hard copy print? I have blogged about this in the past and have stated that for me there is nothing better than opening that box when it arrives from my print source and holding the actual hard copy print in my hand. I will even view it in different light and hold it up to the wall to see how it will look. Then of course there is the framing and finding that special place to hang it. Then I can say the act of capturing the image is complete. I don’t know what it is, but opening that box when it arrives is like Christmas morning for me, the anticipation is actually a joyful feeling and not a nervous one.

But we still have this whole social media explosion going on and it is a big part of many people’s lives. There is viewing and sharing of images that goes on so much that we hardly remember a time when we didn’t do it. And if you are of the younger generation you can’t remember a time you didn’t post and share because you have done it your whole life. So why do we take photos? Why not, every phone has a camera in it and cameras in the phones are getting better every year. Where do we take photos? Everywhere, we take photos of our food, something people rarely ever did before the camera in the phone. And the “selfie,” you can’t go on social media and not find photos of people taking photos of themselves. So without a doubt it has all changed.

And now I ask you; who needs a photographer when everybody has a camera in their phone. Ok… so first I have to say “you know how irritated I get when people start comparing their iPhone to a DSLR. Yes the iPhone takes good photos but it is as far from a DSLR as a production Porsche road car is to a Porsche powered Formula One car. The guy driving his Porsche to work is a legend in his own mind, not a Formula One driver. Same goes for the iPhone and a DSLR, enough said.

The Photo Shoot: With all the changing in today’s photography, photographers still find a place where they can hold a firm stand and will most likely always be needed. Now I define a “photographer” as a person who actually has knowledge that goes past the entry level DSLR and editing using Photoshop Elements. I define the “photographer” as someone who knows, the camera settings like the back of his/her hand, lighting techniques, posing, editing skin tones, fixing problems such as the bug that landed on the nose during that special moment ect… Then there is printing… Wait… did I say printing? Sure, we can still print images; after all it is a little bit expensive to go around hanging large screen monitors to view our images. While a 16×20 inch photograph is a whole lot easier and cheaper to mount. And a “photographer” is going to have the proper lens for the type of shot being captured.

To be continued…

Fun Photo Shoot Part 2 (I truly have always believed we are all kids if we let ourselves be kids.)

Gaem, Ann & Emma

Gaem, Ann & Emma

 

Part 2 A Fun Photo Shoot:

So we have our photographer on hand with the proper lenses and knowledge of editing so let’s get started. I as a photographer have a rule and as silly as it sounds I really try to stick to this all so important rule of “it has to be fun” and if it is not fun we just pack up and head leave. For today’s shoot I find myself at Sandy Hook Lighthouse to shoot three grown ladies who are all close friends. They have actually laid out the plan for the shoot and have chosen the location themselves. All I have to do is direct & shoot. All three ladies are Thai and they have chosen three different looks and their first look is very amazing. They have decided to have nice photos in authentic Thai dresses. Although they live and work in the USA they still hold true to their Thai culture. The dresses are amazing, the colors and style is fancy but not overly ornate and this allows the dresses to be functional. I have photographed many Thai events and parties and have seen this style dress before; they wear well and really are stunning to see up close. There is also the craftsmanship that goes into such a garment as one can imagine.

So the shoot starts off with one big problem, wind. We are surrounded by water and like most lighthouses I have ever been to there is wind. But today we are getting hammered by the wind. The ladies all have long hair and this is where my challenge will be when it comes to editing. However the girls are eager to shoot anyway; after all it is all about fun. Two of the girls have their mothers with them and one has even brought her two children and I have my wife acting as my assistant. I say “acting” because she is rarely my assistant, but today she agreed to help.

So let’s get to the “fun” part. Well, really the wind was not fun for me. But everyone else is having fun. I truly have always believed we are all kids if we let ourselves be kids. And it is that “let ourselves” part that a lot of people have a problem with. The problem for most people is when they have kids they somehow stop feeling like a kid. I know and understand all that “you have to be a responsible parent” stuff, but life doesn’t have to end. I have seen people break that barrier and still be responsible parents. Sometimes it might mean getting rid of the kids for a day or just a few hours. Other people stop being a kid because… as you get older “you’re not supposed to act silly and foolish.” “Who cares?” is what I say. So today I see before me three Thai ladies who are all friends and the fun they are having is like watching three teenage girls. They are getting to dress up and get in front of the camera, having fun posing for the photographer and at times acting a little silly. They are doing group shots and individual shots. After the more formal Thai dress photos they moved to the waterfront. They made a wardrobe change and put on some fashion attire. Again for some people this is what fun is. Of course we all have different ideas of fun, I have photographed guys on motorcycles or skateboards ect… that is their idea of fun. But for these three ladies today it is all about being at a special location that has meaning to them. One of the ladies actually lived at Sandy Hook for a period of time and it had a strong meaning to her and having a fun photo shoot at this location with two of her closest friends and her mother there, really made for a memorable experience.

I’m not going to get into the normal topic about how cameras capture moments in time. But I would rather talk about how an overall photo shoot such as this is more about the fun of the whole event. The joy of getting together with friends, acting silly,, dressing up and dressing down and during all that, yes there was the capturing of it all. Capturing the images and also having great images with good edits. And that is where it takes something more than just an iPhone to get nice captures. With some creative composing such as shallow depth of field for nice bokeh and correct white balance along with correct color. So in my opinion “yes” there is still a need for the “good photographer” with his/her DSLR along with editing skills.

As the shoot came to an end my wife and I were invited to join the Thai ladies in dining out for Japanese cuisine, something I could hardly complain about. I love all Asian cuisine. This also gave us a little time to review the photos before departing. In the end fun was had by all and if was a “Fun Photo Shoot.”

 

The Conclusion to the Iron Factory Shoot. ( It felt more like a gnat bothering a horse.)

Iron_Factory_9-21-3389

So the Iron Factory Studio shoot is done and “in the can” as they say. Now I will let the images sit and age for a while. No seriously I have so much going on at this time I really have no time to edit. Besides the other half of the project is still to happen. I will leave for my trip to Southeast Asia on November 16 and return in December just before Christmas. So the final edits for those images will not come until late January.

Iron Factory report: The day starts as we arrive in Philly and the GPS wants to take me up Fontain Street the wrong way… oh boy! So as I arrive Aryn Wilson (makeup artist) is already in city and waiting. Kendall Strampel is arriving just minutes after me. Looks like we got us a photo shoot! I meet with Kat from the studio and she lets me in, shows me around and “we’re golden” good to go. Oh did I say it is on the third floor and no elevator… Yeah boy, I have a whole Durango full of studio gear to be moved up and set up and I have one hour to do it. I brought one huge muscle man named “Tiny” and we did it. Studio is up and running as scheduled. I love when a plan comes together… cheap lines from 80s TV shows always make blog post more interesting.

So Aryn has Kendall ready pretty close to schedule and we’re test shooting, take a short break and get right to it. I had the normal gremlins that can always be expected when shooting tethered to an old laptop and using Lightroom 3. So I dumped that plan and went to camera WiFi out straight to my tablet for review. Most of the shoot was using the awesome Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 USM II, keeping somewhere at or close to the sweet spot for that lens, about f/7.1 to f/8 ISO 50 and shutter going between 1/80 sec to 1/160 sec. Mostly 1/125 second. The Paul C Buff White Lightning’s were working hard all day at about ¾ power. Lots of “creative” light.

At one point a guest whom I had invited stopped by, we had never met and she wanted to see what it was and how it is that I do. Seren was a perfect guest, she accepted my invite and she visited and departed after she seen and learned a little about what I was doing. Always refreshing to meet new people on the fly and make a true connection, thank you Seren.

My Thai wife had made lots of Thai food & fresh fruit for the crew and models and Kendall’s parents. I think we had all bases covered for comfort as best as we could. Now the call comes in that Cynthia Ann has arrived and she will need to be escorted to the studio. There was a rowdy bar just around the corner and the game was on so… well it’s only the right thing to do; we take no chances when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of the ladies. So I headed out to the street, located her and we walked & talked. Both models were at their best and it made for a great shoot. The theme for the day could have been “contrast” as working with two young ladies who are so different. Kendall who is so peaceful and soft spoken in her angelic light southern draw, her voice is light and she is just so cool to be around. Cynthia Ann on the other hand is very talkative and humor cranked to 110%, she exudes positive energy to everybody in the room. I love her so much because she talks as much as I do… maybe more and she is 100% real to the core. What you see is what you get. Creepy thing is… when I go to give Cynthia a command or direction she does it as I’m thinking of it. This is not a joke; she truly knows what I’m thinking. I noticed this the first time I shot with her while doing a test shoot. Think about that for a second… you are working with somebody who can do what you say before you say it and they don’t even realize they’re doing it. I still am very puzzled by it, but I’ll take it any day.

So soon Kendall had transitioned from fashion to fitness looks and she was done for the day and headed back to the Lehigh Valley. Now I’m left with Cynthia Ann, who while on break finds joy in punching me as hard as she can in the arm & shoulder because I told her she can’t do “fitness” shoots because she has no muscle. Did it hurt you may ask? Let’s see… 105 lbs hitting 270 lbs… it better not hurt lol. It felt more like a gnat bothering a horse. Yes we have fun. Soon Cynthia’s session was ending and I escorted her to her car, while my assistant escorted Aryn to her car. All ladies safely on their way home so now it’s time to tear it all down and head home ourselves. I was tired and hungry; I had one coffee, one bagel, two cans of diet soda and three bottles of water all day. I stopped for nothing. While models were changing or on break, I would be changing out softboxes, fixing lighting or reviewing images. Fun for me though.

So in conclusion did I get what I came for? Yes! Yes I did. It was a well-planned shoot and in taking Frank Doorhof’s advice from his latest book “Mastering the Model Shoot (Everything the Photographer Needs).” Frank says “Always schedule three models and at least one will show.” Well… Reese called the night before and said she would not be able to attend. There are no hard feeling and I told Reese “there is always another day” and I understand. After all Mr. Doorhof told me this in his book and I believed it and followed his advice from the start. I actually owe a lot of the success of this particular shoot to the advice and information found in Frank’s book. Thank you Mr. Doorhof for a well-executed plan to follow. I would recommend this book to anybody wanting to run a shoot smoothly for the first time. Make it easy on yourself, follow a master.

Iron_Factory_9-21-3805

Summertime Memories (the joy & love of nature was with me as a child, although back then it was just everyday life.)

Tiger Lily

So today I would like to talk about two recent photos that are kind of special to me because of the “memory factor” as I like to call it. We all often times look at photos and they bring back memories. We see an old photo of ourselves or family members or maybe even friends and it triggers our mind and we think back to that day or time. It is easy to think back to it because we see the faces or places and it forces the memory. But then there are the other photos that trigger memories and that is what I’m talking about today.

Sometimes we just see an image of something simple and it represents something big in our mind. The two photos in this post represent similar things to me. They may not mean very much to you the reader other than they may look like nice photos. I captured these images on separate days at two totally different locations. Both photos were not planned but rather just a spur of the moment shot. And then during the edit each one triggered or I should say opened a flood gate of memories. Memories, which I never really thought about because they were kind of simple or uneventful.

While editing the photo of the berries I started to drift back in time to when I was a small boy of 8 to 12 years old and I thought about the many times my sisters and I would find the wild berries as we had our adventures playing on the farm. The berries were always plentiful as were the adventures on that farm. Then the memory shifted to a later time as I was in my teens working on tobacco farms in Virginia. Again wild berries were always abundant, whether I was walking down a backwoods dirt road in the beautiful countryside or at the edge of a “baccer patch” (as the locals called it) up on a mountainside. Then as the memory shifted once again to the bicycle path along the Delaware River, either walking or biking I would stop and have a snack. I could even see my girlfriend’s face as we would fight to see who could get the nicest berries. Who would think a simple photo could bring back so much. This really is one of the joys of photography for me on a personal level. Sure I like working with people and covering events, but getting out and taking a walk in nature and just looking for the finer things it has to offer is such a joy.

The Tiger Lily more or less is the same as the berries. It represents summer, hot weather and for me the Tiger Lily most represented “summer freedom” as in NO SCHOOL! Yeah no school! For it is always late June when we see the lilies appear here in New Jersey and that is when school is out for the summer. The lilies were always a backdrop to my meanderings either on bicycle or walking as I made my way up & down the country roads of Delaware Township. And as much as this world around me has changed with all the progression of building houses and making way for the new, the Tiger Lily or “Ditch Lily” as some old timers call them is still here. Not only on the roadside but everywhere, I love them. I think of hot summer days walking to visit my friend John. Yes those were the days and sure I don’t need a Tiger Lily to make me remember those wonderful times but it sure helps set the scene. I have come to realize the joy & love of nature was with me as a child, although back then it was just everyday life. I’m so blessed to have had that life.

Photography Info:

Both images were captured with a Canon 6D using a 70-200mm lens.

Both were edited in Lightroom using very basic adjustments such as contrast, clarity, vibrance and highlights.

The berries were shot at 1/50 of sec at f/2.8 ISO 50 at 200mm 7:04pm.

The Tiger Lily was shot using fill flash set to 1/32 power from an EX430II flash.

Capture was 1/60 of sec at f/2.8 ISO 50 at 102mm 12:21pm.

 

How I Became Known Around The World (But I like crazy, that’s me)

Dalian China 2003

Dalian China 2003

 

Several years ago, about 2007 to be exact I heard about a program named Skype. I found it by way of watching a news interview and the reporter was being patched into the live news program via a program called Skype. I looked up Skype and read about it and at first I thought it was just another chat program. I never really was into chat, after all who would I chat with? If I wanted to talk to someone I would just pick up the phone. So I went on to read and learn more about Skype and I found it was a little different (at the time), so I downloaded it. Ok… Now I have it downloaded, but nobody I know has Skype so now what? It was like sitting in a sports car with no gas in the tank. After a few days of thinking about it and pondering I remembered reading that companies used Skype for global communications. So if I had a friend on the other side of the world I would be able to talk to them and… ah so what, I barley know myself let alone somebody on the other side of the world. I always wanted a Chinese pen pal, I have always been fascinated with Asian cultures, Chinese in particular because it dates back so many centuries and has an enormous history. Also China is so large the cultures are not the same in all regions.

So why not get a Chinese pen pal, there must be a website for that. Right? Now before I go any further I know a lot of you are thinking “he’s crazy” and that’s ok because for the most part I’m right there with you on that thought. But I like crazy, that’s me. So yes there are pen pal websites although now they call them “language exchange” sites. I pick out a site and spend time reading and studying all about it. Many times when I tell this story I get asked; how did I know how to do this? Do what? I just spent hours reading about it. But isn’t that boring? Yes, but remember I’m crazy. So after reading I make a profile and then I sit there and look at the screen… now what? Maybe about two weeks later I get an email that someone wants to contact me, then a day or two later another contact comes in. I contact the person back and tell them I have Skype and nothing really happens. Now you must know this is strictly plutonic on my end. I am not in any way looking for online relationships other than to talk about culture and daily life. The second contact was a hit and we would chat. It was a Chinese boy who was a swimmer training for the upcoming Olympics. His English name was Ben. He was very interesting to chat with. Then a girl named Grace contacted me but not through the exchange site but rather by way of the Skype directory (like a big phone book). She just pulled my name out of the directory because I was in the USA and that intrigued her. We chatted and she told me many stories about her life in China. Nothing special, just everyday life.

As time passed I made many friends in China both male & female, from different regions with different jobs or careers. Some worked in science laboratories, one lady was a coal broker and another was a purchaser for a manufacturing company. One person I found very interesting was a college student who had very strict parents. They wanted her to learn English and paid for a private tutor for her and her younger sister, one hour every day. She also was learning proper American etiquette and would contact me when she had a question about her homework. I remember teaching her how to set a table with the placement of each utensil and what that utensil would be used for. She ate with chopsticks so she had no knowledge at all of what a salad fork vs. dinner fork was. It was truly a fascinating thing for me. Boring for anybody else, fascinating for me. I remember a young man about 22 or 23 contacting me and asking if I would re-write his résumé in correct English. He was applying to a Japanese company that specialized in disaster rescue after catastrophic events like earthquakes and tsunamis. He got the job and moved to Japan and I never heard from him again. I learned about what they learn in school, what they like & dislike, how they live, work, play commute. I also learned what they think about USA, Obama and all our politics or what they know of it. I learned what they hear in their news is not always the truth (as we know it) and I learned more so what we hear in our media is not always the truth. Funny thing I learned is that Americans always talk about how our media sucks (for the lack of a better word) but we’ll defend it as the truth if another country’s media says something different. I would hear things like “what the hell do they know… they’re China.” And yes the Chinese do the same, they defend their media. I guess you could sum the whole experience up as “we are all the same” we are human; we are the people of the world. My chat friends had the same problems we all do. They had divorce, cancer, love & hatred, careers, college, vacations, pets, loneliness, depression, happy, domestic problems, religion, and a zest for life.

I still have never traveled to China and most of my chat friends have moved on except for Grace. We stay in touch through email and exchange photos. She has a job as a travel agent and sends me photos of the places along her travels. I know I will travel to China one day and I know it will be the time of my life. I like most tourists want to see the Great Wall but that is about as far as I want to go with the “normal” tourist travel, for having friends there that you personally know sheds a whole new light on things and opens so many more possibilities for being able to see other places like farms and the countryside. Maybe having a chance to go to an out of the ordinary place that and American tourist would never get to see. If you have read some of my previous blog posts about travel you will know, yes I like to travel but I hate the masses. I have never been on a tour bus in my life. Not to say they are bad but it just is not me. So there you have it that is how I became known around the world (I guess you could say). It certainly changed the way I view the world, that’s for sure. I think the one thing that hit me the hardest and has never left my brain is the fact that Chinese children (today) start learning English at about the 3rd grade. Problem is they are taught by other Chinese and not by a native English teacher so the reading and writing is there but there, but the speech is horrible. A Chinese person who can read, write & speak English can at this moment triple their yearly salary working for an American company based in China. Now here is the real kicker and the ironic contrast as I call it. Chinese people, 1.8 billion are willing to openly let English come to they’re daily life. But here in the USA where we are 300 million plus and we are having Spanish shoved down our throats and up our ass by 15 million wanna-be residents. Just think about that… and let it sink in.

The reason I wrote this post was to let people know a little about how I became friends with people I never met face to face 8000 miles away.

I also met my wife via Skype as a 100% cold contact; I just picked her name out of the directory. That is another story for another day.

Friends ( personally I do not know anybody, but my Facebook says I do) lol :-P

Photographed this sunset while walking the dog on January 1, 2014. 10,000th photo shot on my Canon 6D

Photographed this sunset while walking the dog on January 1, 2014. 10,000th photo shot on my Canon 6D

So for many years now I have had a personal Facebook page and I have had friends come and go from my friends list. I watched as the list grew to twenty then fifty, seventy and it seemed to hang around seventy for some time. I never felt compelled to make it go higher. I have seen teenage girls and others who have over a thousand friends listed. I asked one this one girl if she really knew all the people on her friends list and she replied very fast “sure I do.” At the moment when I asked her that question we were out at a restaurant with other friends. So I asked her to come over and sit at my side of the table. Using my phone we sat together and started inspecting here friends list and I would ask her “how do you know this person and that person.” I would mostly pick the older males on the list and of the older males we started to see that she knew very few of them. Her mother asking “yeah just how do you know all these men?” She soon admitted that she was guilty of accepting pretty much every friend request that came her way for about 3 years. Reason being “that it looked cool” to have a high amount of friends on your page. Now she is 19 and in college, so I pointed out that it just doesn’t look to cool from another angle. I mean to each “his/her own” I always say, but I always regarded the “Friend” list on Facebook as people I actually personally know. I may not have met them in person, however we do live in an age where we are able to reach around the world and have a personal interaction with someone via webcam, file sharing and chat. After all many of you who know me personally, know I met my wife as a 100% cold contact via Skype and see was 8000 miles away. So each person on my Friends list (currently 233) I have personally interacted with in one way or another at one time in my life and it meant enough to me to add them to my list. Some are people who I may not have known at all and were sent my way by a current friend because they wanted to see photos and that is fine. But then I will soon interact with them commenting on their posts and soon enoughI have a reason to keep them on my list because I find they are interesting in some way. I was just chatting with a photographer friend last night about camera flashes. I have never met him in person but he is a very interesting photographer and posts very nice work. I belong to a private Facebook photo group in Thailand and many of those members are also on my friends list .

So again I never felt I had to go out and find Facebook friends but it just seemed to happen. Will I find 1000 of them? I seriously doubt it, because I don’t want that. So as my photography has evolved and hopefully improved I started up a website, soon followed by this blog page on the website and now comes the next step, the “Reckless Pixel” Facebook page. I have a plan to be a better photographer and a better known photographer, so I have to promote and use more than one cyber avenue. Most of the entire Reckless Pixel page will give me a place to post my photography and let people comment as they always have in the past, only now they do not have to be on my friends list. This keeps my personal Facebook page more personal while letting everybody see my photography.

In closing I would like to thank all the people around the world who read this blog, I am amazed every time I look at the WordPress statistic page and see all the different countries that click on my blog. Same goes for my pages at Adobe’s Behance site and my Twitter. So thanks for looking… and I know there are many viewers out there that never hit the “Like” and never leave a comment, but still enjoy viewing my photography. I know because when I do meet people in-person they will make a comment about a photo they have seen. They didn’t hit “Like” and they never left a comment but I know they seen it. So here we go with something new for 2014 the Reckless Pixel Facebook page.

Happy New Year everybody.