Love at 1/2000 of a second in the land of smiles.

This is probably one of my most favorite photos of my current trip to Thailand. Actually it could be one of my most favorite Thai photos of all time. Like all photos there’s a back story and this one is very heartwarming.

The backstory starts with me first telling you how wonderfully treated Americans are here in Thailand. Now of course when you’re in the tourist area everyone is treated nice because… you’re in a tourist area of course. However once I venture out into heartland of the country the smiles and the hospitality are amazing.

I spent the day traveling with family far away from the village, about a two-hour Journey. We were going to see a few different locations where I could fly my drone and capture some wonderful photography. For the first half of the journey I rode in the front seat of the pickup truck taking in all the sights along the way. But as we got ready to turn around and head back I decided to ride in the back of the pickup truck. Riding in the back of the pickup truck allows me to take in the sights but at the same time it allows me to capture a lot of nice candid photos as we’re traveling.

This sounds like fun and actually it is a lot of fun but as a photographer it’s not the easiest thing to do. As a photographer we just want to be able to steady our camera and get a nice shot. riding in the back of a pickup truck is not smooth by any means. The camera settings are very important most of all the shutter speed. You want to be able to capture a photo in an instant. So while riding in the back of the truck I usually keep my shutter speed set to a constant 1/2000 of a second. Even still the photos are not going to be perfect however you are going to capture that moment instantly.

So for this photo I’m riding in the back of the truck and the backstory is how attentive some people are at what is happening around them. Sure I’m the photographer and I’m constantly turning my head to see what’s going on around me. I’m riding down the road I don’t know exactly how fast we’re going and if you’re the passerby you’re not going to see me until the truck has gone by and you look in the back of the truck.

So as I’m whizzing by this roadside market area, this lady looks up and in a Split Second she sees me and she gets a huge smile on her face and gives me the okay sign. I only captured one frame before she was out of sight. But in that one frame I caught the heartwarming happiness and the huge smile of somebody who is happy to have their photo taken. Think about it, in just that Split Second she looks up and identifies a Caucasian guy sitting in the back of a truck with a camera. And that expression on her face truly is the feeling that I feel just about everywhere I travel in this wonderful country called Thailand. For many of my friends I know you will never feel the joy of coming to this land of Many Wonders and smiles. And for those of my friends who have already been here many of them often overlooked the true beauty of this country and the people within it. There’s so much that I could say about the feeling that I get when I travel through this country. Someday I know I will complete my Photography book about Thailand, I started the project several years ago and the biggest problem I have is deciding which photos to include in the book. However I do believe I have found the cover photo for the book. My only regret is that I would never be able to find this lady and thank her for her wonderful smile.

Many people come to Thailand and take photos of all the beautiful temples and other scenery. I have to say I like those photos to but, the most important photos to me are the faces of the people and their everyday life.

Note: I still yet have to go through my GPS log to identify the location where this was taken.

Old Photos (because memories are like days we don’t always have good ones…)

Remember Polaroids?

Remember Polaroids?

Photographs & Memories… a cliché? Maybe! It is also the name of one of my favorite 70’s albums. Talk about clichés, some clichés make me just want to puke and smack my head into a wall. How many times have I visited a photographer’s website and I click on the “About” page only to read some (so-called) prolific statement about “capturing time” or “capturing life moments” or “preserving moments in time” and blah blah blah… While “yes” I am mocking these statements but many times that “About” page sounds so damn hokey, same as the camera aperture symbol being used (most often) in the letter O on the photographer’s business card and logos. They (who ever “they” are) claim you should strive to be different to get ahead and get noticed and sometimes being different could be as easy as not vomiting verbally on your “About” page and just sticking to a statement that is naturally “you” or have somebody else write the statement like I chose to do.

Ok on to more serious things…

I feel that while technically a photograph is a moment frozen in time, captured if you will. But there is more to it than just that. So let’s just dive a little deeper and take a trip down memory lane. My hopes are that by the end of you reading this post you will go look at some of your own old photos whether they are in tangible albums or saved on a drive or in a cloud, go get lost in a memory.

You see a photo today that you captured yesterday and maybe it was a great image and you are happy to see it again. As the weeks pass it may lose a little feeling and soon it will start to wane and you’ll not look at it so much anymore. Or maybe you will see it every day because it is your profile or cover photo on your favorite form of social media. You see it every time you logon but you don’t really “notice” it, it’s like your feet, you know they’re there (somewhere… you hope) you just don’t think about them too much.

We have all heard a song from days gone by that triggers a memory. But if you are like me the song will not just trigger one single memory, it will open a window for you to look back and peer into your life and see the entire ambience around that time in your life. You will look well beyond the “moment captured in time” and the moment was just a key to unlock so much more. This is what old photographs do for me, they open a window and there is so much more to see then just that “moment captured in time” that is on your monitor or printed to a piece of paper. “Lost in a memory” can be a very emotional thing because memories are like days we don’t always have good ones, but we do have the images to remind us… good or bad. A picture is worth a thousand words but that one picture could be worth just as many memories too.

Now I know this sounds a little stupid but pictures have to be new before they can become old. My point is; go make some new pictures. Keep them safe and let them age.

End of The Year Organization (I am always miss-placing small things and waste time looking for them)

“Nobody's perfect. We're all just one step up from the beasts and one step down from the angels.”  ― Jeannette Walls,

“Nobody’s perfect. We’re all just one step up from the beasts and one step down from the angels.”
― Jeannette Walls 

So as we head out of 2015 and into 2016 as a photographer this is the time when you should be doing your “end of the year cleanup” as I call it. For me it means things like designing a new watermark for my photos. I like to make a new watermark with the year’s date so as time passes I can look back and know exactly the year the photo was processed and posted.

Another thing I do at this time of year is to go through my drives and throw away any images I know I will never need. My “download” folder is usually the biggest culprit, housing lots of images I may have downloaded for mood boards and other referencing. Most of these images are no longer needed and taking up space.

Then there are my external hard drives and cloud storages. Some hard drives I use on a daily basis and work with the files right from the drive and save back to the drive. Other hard drives are just for backup and I will look at all the hard drives both “working” & “backup” and make a determination as to if and when I need to purchase more drives or can I consolidate drives? So yes I actually have a time of year that I do this or at least visit this situation because the last thing I want to do is have photo work lined up and coming in and have no room on the drives to store RAW images.

I really am not anal about “organization” in my life as a person. Like most people I am always miss-placing small things and waste time looking for them all the while they are right in front of me. But with that said; I learned long ago that saving email can be a life saver in more than one way, such as proof of a purchase and the date of a purchase or even more important proof of conversation with someone. However in order for the whole thing to work you need to be able to find the email quickly and somewhat easily. The same is true with photos and I have blogged about this before; even if you are not a professional photographer, in today’s world we all have images coming into our life every day and the number can be staggering so having an organized plan really is something to think about. I will be blogging in a day or so again on the topic of keeping track of and how to save images so they can be found.

Sometimes I just want to go back and find that image that posted on Facebook earlier this year; Well for me that can be real easy because I generate the images right out of Adobe Lightroom and when the JPEG is made from the master file it is sent to a folder appropriately named “15 Facebook” and next year’s folder was just made yesterday and named “16 Facebook.” So when I need to find an image it is really easy and I also have sub folders for special events like a party or a day at the beach and so-on. This really is the only part of my life that is organized correctly; I actually have a goal in the coming weeks to move this organization to my tablet. How many times I want to show images from my tablet to someone and I spend 10 minutes looking for one image. I’m not a fan of New Year resolutions but it is a perfect time to say “Out with the old and in with the new.”

Happy New Year to all.

 

Poor Santa (It is a time when mother and father are everything to our little hearts and souls.)

Poor Santa Claus

Poor Santa Claus

Poor Santa Claus… The day after Christmas for him is akin to a 48 hour rave in the Red Light district. He is depleted of all energy, looking thin and disheveled he sits and tries to decompress. Thinking of a warm beach far away from everyone, battered from the non-believers, naysayers, and the elements of Mother Nature he just sits and stares. His mind drifts back to a time when life was harder but thoughts of Christmas were softer and filled with the joy of giving someone a gift and not a gift card. He knows full well if it wasn’t for children he would cease to exist. But he does exist, he beats the odds and returns each year, no matter how politically correct the world becomes and how much evil tries to topple him; For as long as there is a child with a smile a Christmas wish in his or her heart Santa Claus will return.

I have talked at length with Santa and the one thing that makes us both shed a tear is to see a child who is not healthy enough to enjoy Christmas. Christians will be celebrating their savior’s birth. But for all children Christmas is a celebration of innocence. It is a time of our life which we all passed through called childhood and it is supposed to be filled with innocence and to be oblivious to the cruel realities of the world. A time when mother and father’s love is craved and nothing could be greater. It is a time when mother and father are everything to our little hearts and souls.

So to see a child that cannot enjoy that holy innocence due to sickness or abuse or poverty really tears at my heart. Christmas is a time of the year when many people dig deep and give donations to charity. Please all Santa and I ask is that you help at the very least just one small child to have a good Christmas. Because when you make that child smile you breathe life to Santa Claus. Long live Santa Claus!

Instagram Lives (IG has no adds that chase you around like an evil stepmother)

"Reaching" Model Kendall Strampel, hair & makeup Aryn Wilson

“Reaching” Model Kendall Strampel, hair & makeup Aryn Wilson “Dreams can be so elusive like a whisper on the wind. Like the moon above seen yet never touched. Through perseverance, hard work and a long road traveled… One day the moon is replaced by the earth in the sky.” -Richie Smith Jr-

My experience as a photographer with Facebook is dead. I have two active Facebook pages; my personal page is where I interact with people I know, most of whom I have met in person. However there are a few very interesting people on my friends list that I have never had the pleasure of meeting in person, but I have found them very interesting and I like to follow and read their postings.

My Recklesspixel Facebook page was created as a way to get my photography and illustrations out to the rest of the world. Sure I have a website, a blog site and media content site that are all integrated, but social media is for the most part free and as the name implies it is social. But Facebook has gotten greedy when it comes to getting your message (mine is photography) out to the masses. They want you to pay to “boost” your postings and it really is a bunch of BS.

Here is my personal experience with Instagram vs Facebook. Ok so I have paid to boost a post on Facebook and all it ever got me was a few “Likes” and that was it. I received very few comments and I received absolutely no business, no business interactions what-so-ever, zero.

The short of how I started with Instagram was a friend in China asked me if I would use Instagram to share photos with her and this dates back to 2009. I downloaded the Instagram app to my phone and I had one follower and I followed just one person, my friend Grace. We originally started out on Skype and as Grace’s career changed and she was on the go Skype was no longer functional to connect with a quick real-time photo or comment and given the fact the Chinese government does not allow Facebook we found a work-around solution.

So I had IG for a few years and soon I started to get followers from my Facebook friends list, just a few here and there. Then I noticed in 2012 that when I would meet a younger person say 15 to 24 years old they would ask what my IG name is and they would all but puke at the thought of Facebook. “Facebook” that is where grandma goes to play Farmville or they would say things like “Facebook sucks because it only shows you what Facebook wants you to see.” That statement came from a fifteen year old five years ago.

So I plodded along and every so often I would open the IG app and check it out, but not too much would happen. Then in 2014 I set some goals to take my photography to newer and higher levels, I knew I needed to be more active on social media. Now let me explain that this is not the typical social media activity many are guilty of where they just sit and push a “Like” button or view mindless videos of cats only to get to the end of the climax-less video to wish you had those two minutes of your life back. Or worse to sit and rant and comment about a Photoshoped image of an abused animal, child or whatever… to me that is all pointless stuff one does when they have nothing better to do. No, my social media activity on IG became calculated, but first I had to educate myself a little bit with everything IG, such as etiquette and what people are really using IG for. So for the most part there are really two groups of people on IG; there are people who what to post content for others to see and there are selfie queens who must post a selfie every few minutes because their fragile mindless ego dictates they have to do that. Don’t get me wrong I think everybody has posted a selfie, but if it becomes an obsession than as far as media content is concerned it is pointless.

So I started actively following people or businesses that I thought would help my photography, I also would interact with them. And as time pressed on I would post content that was 99% about my photography and 1% about other stuff such as a cool and interesting location or activity. Then one day I got a DM or direct message and it wasn’t from Grace, it was from a fellow photographer asking advice. What? From me? Then more DMs started to appear in the coming days/weeks from models wanting to shoot with me, photographers who wanted to shadow me at a shoot and people asking Photoshop questions. Although I had interacted with IG users by nothing more than leaving comments on posts I had never sent a DM to anybody, well other than Grace. Then the phone calls started coming, I have my Google Voice number in my profile. I had people asking about portrait pricing and dates. I was like OMG it really can happen, social media can really work for you if you work for it and I have never given Instagram a dime, FUCK YOU FACEBOOK!

So with the good comes a little bad I guess. I have had some images stolen from IG and amazingly enough one moron edited the photo and posted back to his IG and credited me as the photographer and he even credited the model, but his edit was horrible and …yeah his IG account went down in flames like Russian jet over Syria lol.

Now as I said my posts on IG are calculated to get the most impact. Timing is everything; using software to know the best time to post has really helped me. But I think the most powerful tool was learning how to use hashtags. Hashtags are more powerful than older people realize because they travel across social platforms. I say “older” people because I find the younger crowd knows fully how to use them and their power.

Instagram really has taken a good swing at Facebook and as far as I’m concerned it landed a critical blow. Almost like when you’re hit and it doesn’t show till the bruises appear later. I’m sure Instagram will evolve even further, but I just hope they stay as organic as possible. IG has no adds that chase you around like an evil stepmother nor is there a sidebar showing you aunt Martha just liked her 800th cat photo of the day, no game requests and best of all if you get sucked into a video they are only 15 seconds long, that’s the limit and they’re sticking to it… so far.

Love my IG.

 

Reminiscing With Your Photos ( This is where my love of photography really leads me to people, places and situations… )

1/320 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 200mm

1/320 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 200mm Pattaya Thailand

I was really missing Thailand today. For those who don’t know, my wife is Thai and she still has her house there so we travel there about once a year. Don’t get me wrong I love the USA, but I love Thailand too.

So today I was talking with a customer by phone and he told me he was in New Orleans and it was very hot. That then turned the conversation to the like or dislike hot weather. And talking about warm/hot weather always takes me to Thailand in my mind. Then after I hung up the phone I started to really miss Thailand and of course I turned to my monitor and opened up a folder of photos from my 2014 trip and started to reminisce. After all what are photos for, right? Being a photographer it is easy to get caught up in the whole scheme of capturing “that next great shot” and after the capture there is the edit. Using tools like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to create an awesome final image is what I refer to as “grand scheme of it all” and as photographers we are always pushing for that next image. This is where my love of photography really leads me to people, places and situations that I might not normally meet or get to see. But at the end of the day (so to speak) I still like to sit and look at my images and reminisce or sometimes just study the photo, after “all a picture is worth a thousand words” so they say. I often wonder how many photographers actually sit and go through their photos.

Now I know you may be thinking “why would someone take pictures and never look at them?” But it happens… and a lot more often than you think it does.  Rewind to my post from a few years back about the “Enigma Photographer” the man I met who takes thousands of photos and never downloads them. Myself I keep everything in a respectable order so I can find my photos as needed.

So now back to the reminiscing of Thailand; Take this photo for instance; it was captured at 8:18am as I was on my way back to the hotel where I was staying. What are the chances that I would have been up before dawn and out and about and headed back to the hotel when most people are just rolling out of bed? But that is what photography does to/for me, it makes me get up early and go out hunting. Now of course I do not do this every day, but when I am in a new place I know I may find different things and meet different people. So on this day I was up and out on the street at the crack of dawn, walking along the beach and taking it all in. So when I look at this image it takes me back to that morning in Pattaya. I remember snapping many shots of the morning street activity, all the people coming into the city to go to work. I captured many motorbikes and this one was interesting because as I shot the burst of 3 to 4 images I notice in the viewfinder that the little boy sees me and is looking right at me as they pass by. I was not standing close and the street is very wide, but still he noticed me. On this particular morning I captured many images and several were good “street style” images. I guess you could say that was the so-called project for the day “to get up early and go shoot street style photography” and that I did. Then went back and had a wonderful breakfast with my wife and as the heat of the day rose up I retreated to the cool hotel room and edited my images and waited for the late day light to head back out to the streets again. What a life…

Waiting… (Her unconditional love is like medicine for my soul. )

Pixie

Pixie

Waiting… Her look is so precious, it touches my heart every time. Her unconditional love is like medicine for my soul. She wants nothing more than for me to walk with her and share the day.